sqwawqs business life
written by entrepreneurs, for everyone
A-Commerce: The Omnichannel (R)evolution Successful Ecommerce Businesses In MENA â€“ A Fairy Tale? Attitudes To E-Commerce Need To Change Taking a Dive Into Amazon 2017 Metrics
The Snapchat story: the frat-boy past and uncertain future of its
founder Evan Spiegel Startup
Surviving Your Startup The Path To The Artisan Economy When It Comes To Entrepreneurship 40 Is The New 20
Taking a Political Stance Importance Of Visual Elements In Brand Strategy Learning Product Identity
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sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
FROM THE EDITOR Welcome to Issue 4
Ecommerce has been around for 20 years,
of which the behemoth of the western ecommerce world Amazon, was actually incorporated by Jeff Bezos in 1994. In this issue, as well as looking at various aspects in ecommerce, including a look at Amazon - a dive into their numbers for 2017 and what they reflect; plus the jamboree that is ‘HQ2’ - the process that Amazon have developed for deciding the destination city of it’s second HQ base. Something which looks like the bidding process for an Olympic Games, or a Soccer World Cup. Despite ecommerce companies becoming the largest in the world, there is still huge potential in the market place. Vast parts of the world are still at an early stage in their ecommerce development and acceptance. In the MENA region, a number of challenges face ecommerce businesses, and we feature an early success story from the region. How do we measure success? Most would say in terms of financial success, but the current situation of Snapchat is an apt demonstration that apparant success versus the financial future 2 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
of the business, can be far different. Despite becoming a billionaire in taking Snapchat public, Evan Spiegel is facing continual issues in taking the platform to profitability. The popular viewpoint is that it won’t happen and that Snapchat could become a huge failure. Snapchat innovates, but other platforms are quick to incorporate similar features. For me, the real dilemma for Snapchat is to break away from its image as a youth product. It needs to gain acceptance from a much wider audience. But that is just my two cents worth. The Snapchat story is an interesting read. Among our usual mix of intriguing features is one highlighting the invaluable life experience of the entrepreneur, in ‘40 is the new 20’. As our expected lifespan increases into our 70s, 80s and beyond, it really is time for those who think they are ‘too old’ to start a business, wake up and realise that as well as having many more years of life to look forward to, the experience that they have gained in that life to date, will be a valuable asset in their startup. Enjoy this issue.
Best Regards Dean O’Grady Managing Editor
Onside Partners www.onsidepartners.com
Managing Editor: Dean O’Grady Phone: +1 646 593 8887 Email: email@example.com
CONTRIBUTORS THIS ISSUE
Danny Fortson, Carl Schramm, Aki Ranin, Azeem Azhar, Phil R, John Jantsch, Santiago Iniguez, Amir Feizpour, Molly Moseley, Yuval Atsmon, Michael Albert Brown, Aiden McCullen, Oliver Yarborough, Palak Mazumdar, Frank V Martone, Deborah Weinswig, Andre Garcia Ferreira Pinto, Michael Truschler, Vinny O’Brien, Simon St Laurent, Andrew Keen, David Katz.
ADVERTISING & MARKETING Phone: +1 646 593 8887 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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All material appearing in Sqwawqs Magazine is copyright unless otherwise stated or it may rest with the provider of the supplied material. Sqwawqs Magazine takes all care to ensure information is correct at time of publishing, but the publisher accepts no responsibility or liability for the accuracy of any information contained in either text or advertisements. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher.
Contents The Snapchat story: The Frat-Boy Past And Uncertain Future of its Founder Evan Spiegel 05 When it Comes to Entrepreneurship, Age 40 is the New 20.. and Always Has Been 13 Surviving Your Startup 16 The Path to the Artisan Economy 21 Should we Stop Using the Word Innovation?
Importance of Visual Elements in Brand Strategy
Learning Product Identity from the Great Masters
The Art of Interviewing Your Interviewer
Brands Taking a Political Stance 41 Can Tailwind Companies Fully Deliver their Promise in 2018? 44 Change the Script: It’s Time to drop the term ‘Consumer’
GPS = Gut Pheeling System 51
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Contents Why You Shouldn’t Be Freelancing (Do This Instead)
How Can ‘Positive Discrimination’ Not Be Negative Discrimination? 58 Impact of Big Data on the World in 2018
Amazons HQ2 Strategy is Genius. Here’s Why
Taking a dive into Amazons 2017 metrics
a-Commerce: the omnichannel (r)evolution 70
Successful Ecommerce businesses in MENA – a fairy tale?
Attitudes to E-Commerce need to change
The Perils of Connectivity and Sharing
Mark Zuckerberg Needs to Acknowledge that Facebook is a Media Company 91 Simple Secrets of Troll Anti Venom 95
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The Snapchat story: the frat-boy past and uncertain future of its founder Evan Spiegel
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The SnapChat Story
troll through the campus of Stanford University, with its exquisitely coiffed palm trees, Spanish tiled roofs, and manicured lawns, and you would be forgiven for thinking you had taken a wrong turn onto Club Med’s first and only suburban resort. Make no mistake, though; the place is all business. Nestled amid rolling hills and clumps of nondescript office parks in Palo Alto, one of the priciest postcodes in Silicon Valley, which is itself one of the most expensive regions in the world, Stanford is the breeding ground of Big Tech. It is Ground Zero of the Next Big Thing. Hewlett Packard, LinkedIn, and Instagram, to name a few, were launched by alumni. Google, founded as a student project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, is now the world’s second-largest company after Apple, which is just down the road. Stanford’s position as the beating heart of Silicon Valley’s future machine is no accident. The university
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mixes academia with redblooded capitalism in a way that would have Oxford dons choking on their hollygog pudding. Professors, often tech tycoons themselves, invest in student start-ups. Teenagers drop out of the $45,000- a-year institution to launch companies they reckon might just change the world. The last time that happened
was in 2011, when an unreconstructed lad named Evan Spiegel and a couple of “bros” from his fraternity created a sexting app. They would eventually call it Snapchat. What has unfolded since they first conjured the idea for an app to send risqué photos that would selfdestruct after a few seconds has become the stuff of Silicon Valley lore.
The SnapChat Story
If you are over 30, there’s a good chance you have never used Snapchat, and wouldn’t know how to if you tried. If you have kids over the age of 11, the chances are that they are obsessed with it. More than 10m Britons use the app daily, but its fans are heavily skewed toward the young. An astonishing 70% of the 13- to 34-year-olds in Britain have the app on their phones, using it to send selfies superimposed with dog ears or to share short videos, which they can set to self-destruct after anything from one to 10 seconds, or run on a loop. Globally it has 178m daily users — more than Twitter — and prides itself on being the anti-Facebook: the place online where your parents are not and never will be.
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Spiegel, who once enjoined his fellow fraternity brothers over email to “f*** bitches, get leid [sic],” is a billionaire. The 27-year-old travels in a blacked-out SUV, flanked by armed security guards, and is feted by media and ad giants desperate to get their products in front of the teenagers and twentysomethings who, on average, open the app 18 times a day. Spiegel fancies himself as the heir to Steve Jobs, a portrait of whom once hung in his office. He is also Mr. Miranda Kerr, having married the Australian supermodel last year in a small ceremony in the back garden of their $12m ranch-style home in Brentwood, California, which was once owned by Harrison Ford. Yet his ascent to the top of the tech heap has been as controversial as it has been improbable. In a new book, How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars, Billy Gallagher, a contemporary of Spiegel at Stanford, gives an insight into a meteoric rise that resembles that of Facebook.
ased on more than 200 interviews and his own first-hand experience as Spiegel’s fraternity “brother”, Gallagher includes in his story a bitter lawsuit from an ousted co-founder, youthful indiscretions and white-knuckle excitement as the project explodes in popularity — leading to hubris, humiliation and, ironically, a star turn from the Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg. Back in 2013, when it was clear that Snapchat was becoming a phenomenon, Zuckerberg offered to buy it for $3bn. Spiegel, then all of 23 years old, turned him down. The episode inspired not only the book’s title, but legions of techie fanboys. So how did Spiegel, a rich kid from Los Angeles, become the monarch of teenagers’ favorite kingdom? On a chilly January morning, I meet Gallagher, who watched the Evan show first-hand, to ask him. Now studying for an MBA, he sits hunched in his puffa jacket, with five o’clock shadow
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The SnapChat Story and a nasty cough, nursing lemon water at a cafe in the courtyard of Stanford’s business school. All these years later, he is still trying to get his head round what he witnessed. “It felt like it was a fad that only existed here at Stanford,” he says. “It was sort of like, ‘Oh, our friend made this app, and it’s goofy and fun, and we’ll probably delete it in a few months.’ And then it was worth $800m. Now Facebook offers to buy it. And just every few months was like bang, bang, bang. You kept thinking, ‘Wow, this is crazy!’” So how did Spiegel do it? Gallagher says it comes down to his knack for knowing what people want, a skill he honed many years ago as a party-thrower extraordinaire at his Stanford fraternity, Kappa Sigma. By the time Gallagher arrived at Stanford from Philadelphia in 2010 as a first-year student, Spiegel, who was in his third year, was well known. Kappa Sigma was about to be kicked off campus, thanks in no small part to Spiegel, whose role as “social chair” led him to throw “f****** ragers”, as he referred to parties in leaked emails. “Evan was a big presence,” Gallagher says. “People’s view of Stanford as a nerdier school is not necessarily inaccurate. There’s only a small percentage of students who are really outgoing and vibrant. Evan was a central character in throwing many, many parties. He’s a showman. He always wants to be doing it bigger and better and bolder. It was always more, more, more.” At uni bacchanals, Spiegel could most often be found DJing or ensuring no one was short of jello shots made with bottom-shelf booze. He was brash and prone to outlandish ideas. A common refrain within the fraternity was: “Spiegel, we can’t do that.”
The SnapChat Story
Gallagher showed up on the West Coast like a lot of young white men in tech’s great land of opportunity. Fresh out of the $38,000-a-year Haverford School, he was unencumbered by doubt about his future success. He wangled a part-time gig writing for the news website TechCrunch, which was keen for an inside track on the next big thing coming out of the university.
napchat looked like just the ticket. It was a crude, quirky app that seemingly everyone was using to send pictures of each other falling asleep in class, or often much racier material. An interview with Spiegel, whom Gallagher knew socially through the fraternity, was his first story. “I started pretty strong,” he says with a satisfied grin.
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The idea that turned into Snapchat had been born the previous year, on a spring day in 2011, when Reggie Brown, a fraternity “brother” of Spiegel’s, was smoking a spliff with friends and hit upon a puff of inspiration. He hurried down the hall to Spiegel’s room. “We should make an application that makes deleting picture messages,” he blurted. Spiegel lit up. He called it a “million-dollar idea”. No one could have conceived of it then, but Brown’s idea would end up being worth $28bn. Spiegel grew up privileged in Pacific Palisades, a beach community of Los Angeles, the son of accomplished corporate lawyers. They sent him to Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences, an elite private school favored by A-listers such as Dustin Hoffman and Gwyneth Paltrow. He arrived at Stanford certain of one thing, which he repeated often: “I’m not going to work for someone else.”
The SnapChat Story
His first startup, called Future Freshman, was a database of university information for prospective students. The problem was it required a huge amount of data entry. Thankfully Spiegel had free labor. Like most fraternities, aspiring members — pledges — had to endure initiation rituals known as hazing, which usually involved embarrassing, sometimes dangerous, stunts and plenty of binge drinking. Spiegel was an enthusiastic hazer, often organizing “roll-outs,” where pledges would be woken in the middle of the night and be forced to perform various indignities. One stunt involved drunken tricycle jumps off a flimsy wooden ramp. Pledges learnt to fear when the gangly kid from LA came calling.
One day he gathered them for a different purpose. He outlined Future Freshman, informed the pledges of their new jobs as data-entry clerks, then left them to get 10 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
on with building the database. Gallagher recalls: “They huddled around a leftover keg, half of them drinking and bitching about Evan … the other half drinking while doing the work, all inhaling a equal scent parts stale weed and beer.” Future Freshmen fell flat. So when Brown came up with his “million-dollar idea” the following year, Spiegel ran with it. As a design student, however, he didn’t have the technological chops to create an app. He drafted in Bobby Murphy, a quiet coder who had helped him with Future Freshman. They knocked up a crude prototype and called it Picaboo. It was a dud. Spiegel was undeterred. As university broke up for summer, the trio of Murphy, Spiegel, and Brown moved to Spiegel’s father’s house in Pacific Palisades to develop their nascent app. Spiegel was the driving force. Murphy wrote the code. Brown, blond-haired and amiable, was the odd man out. He read
English at Stanford. Gallagher describes him as “a regular guy who wanted to hang out and have a good time without worrying about the future.” Brown had come up with the idea, designed the nowfamous ghost logo, and wrote Picaboo’s first press release: “What betch [sic] ever wants anyone to get hold of her pictures? … The newest application for iPhone, Picaboo let’s [sic] you and your boyfriend send photos for peeks and not keeps!” The release helped etch the company’s image as, above all else, a sexting app, which Spiegel would soon try to walk back. But in those early days they were desperate for recognition. As they neared launching it on Apple’s App Store in July 2011, Spiegel went into marketing mode. He convinced a pair of aspiring models to pose for photos in their bikinis, splashing each other with water on the beach, which he integrated into the screenshots for Picaboo.
The SnapChat Story
It was to no avail. Friends and family aside, nobody knew about the app. Brown flew home to South Carolina for the rest of the summer. The following month, simmering resentments over his work and role boiled over during a phone call that turned into a shouting match. Spiegel hung up, leaving Brown and Murphy to speak. Brown, paranoid he was about to be elbowed out, said he wanted 30% of the company. Murphy replied: “That’s not gonna happen.”
stage — and was handed an empty folder. He had become so immersed in Snapchat that he stopped going to class, so didn’t have enough credits to collect his degree. He and Murphy moved to southern California and threw themselves into the company. Then, in February 2013, Brown sued. The claim alleged that he had been “betrayed” by his former partners, who had pushed him out of the company he’d co-founded. After a year of bitter legal wrangling, Snapchat settled. Brown’s payoff was extraordinary — $158m for what amounted to nine months of part-time work. In exchange, he agreed to a gag order barring him from speaking about the founding or the suit.
Days later, Spiegel and Murphy changed the passwords to Picaboo’s systems. Brown was out. Not long after the break-up, they changed Picaboo’s name to Snapchat after receiving a cease-and-desist from a photo company of the same name. The question for Brown was: did any of it matter? After all, their little app had fewer than 100 users.
Burnt by the ordeal, Spiegel attempted to retreat from the limelight. Gallagher, who had interviewed him several times, was cut off after writing about Brown’s lawsuit. “I’ve talked to other reporters who had similar experiences,” he says, “where they wrote negative things or just covered the lawsuit. Evan just shut them off.”
As they returned to uni for what would be Spiegel and Brown’s last year — Murphy had already graduated — more and more people were downloading what had become known as “Evan’s app.” Beyond Stanford, the first place that it took hold was at a high school 400 miles south, in Orange County. Spiegel’s mother had told his cousin about the app. She and her friends downloaded and began using it voraciously. Within months 100 users had become tens of thousands and then hundreds of thousands.
Snapchat, meanwhile, was booming. It wasn’t long before another young Turk came knocking. Mark Zuckerberg had just floated Facebook on the stock market and was desperate to find ways to grow his empire. In November 2012, he offered to buy Snapchat for $60m, but it was not an entirely friendly overture: he made it clear that Facebook was only days away from rolling out a new feature, called Poke, that did exactly what Snapchat did: disappearing photos and video. “The message was clear: join us, or we will crush you,” Gallagher writes. Spiegel politely declined.
Gallagher recalls: “After a few months, I just noticed that all of my friends on the East Coast were suddenly on Snapchat. Our little app at Stanford was all of a sudden a much bigger thing. It was dizzying.” Things were moving fast. In June 2012, Spiegel walked across the graduation 11 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
Poke, as it happened, was a flop. People just didn’t use it. Snapchat, however, continued to gain tens of millions of fans as it rolled out features that, more often than not, proved wildly successful — such as allowing users to stitch together photo and video snippets into daily “stories.”
The SnapChat Story Zuckerberg had one last go. In November 2013 he made what he thought was a knockout bid: $3bn. Spiegel, again, said no. By then, it was clear Snapchat was able to capture young people’s attention in a way Facebook simply couldn’t. To Gallagher, it’s clear why it took off. “By the time I was in my second year of university, my friends and I were like, ‘I wish there was a button where I could just erase everything on Facebook.’ So much of what was on there was just cringe-worthy,” he says. “Snapchat had this really appealing sense of ‘I can post whatever I want, and it’s going to go away.’ There’s no profile with ten years of stuff that gets old and is no longer who I am.” Yet most press coverage simply viewed Snapchat as a sexting app. This was partly, Gallagher argues, because most journalists are too old to understand the app. But Spiegel’s history also came back to bite him. In 2014, the now-defunct website Valleywag published emails Spiegel had sent during his partying years. They were horrible. He joked about shooting lasers at “fat girls” and having “some girl put your large kappa sigma dick down her throat.” The episode left the impression that Spiegel, instead of a Jobsian visionary, was merely a prototypical tech bro. “I have no excuse. I’m sorry,” he wrote. “They in no way reflect who I am today or my views towards women.” Less than three years after his public shaming, on March 2 last year, Spiegel and Murphy rang the bell to open trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Snap Inc, as the company had been renamed, had a storming first day as a public company. Its stock rocketed from $17 a share to $24.48, valuing it at $28bn. Thanks to their stakes, Spiegel and Brown were worth $5bn apiece. Things have not gone quite so well since. Having raised several billion dollars from investors, Spiegel is under pressure to turn his idea into a money-making machine. That has 12 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
proved exceedingly difficult, Gallagher reckons, partly because of Spiegel himself. The company has grown to nearly 3,000 employees, but he trusts only a small inner circle. He prefers to hold meetings while walking along the boardwalk because, in theory, it is harder for people to eavesdrop. In 2016, the company spent nearly $900,000 on his personal security detail, including armed guards that hustle him around in a blackedout SUV. At his insistence, teams work in separate buildings, often under strict orders to keep their projects secret from colleagues. “The biggest issue is secrecy,” Gallagher says. “There’s a sense, especially from employees who aren’t on the inner circle, of ‘Am I valued here if I’m not trusted?’ ” There is also his old nemesis, Zuckerberg. Virtually every feature that Spiegel rolls out has been shamelessly copied by Facebook and its picture app, Instagram. The running joke is that Spiegel is Zuckerberg’s head of research and development. Since that frantic first day of trading, Snap Inc’s stock has nearly halved. At the time of writing, Spiegel was set to unveil the first set of annual results, which were likely to show millions more joining the platform, while financial losses climb further into the billions of dollars. Spiegel’s challenge is clear: transform Snapchat into an advertising colossus without snuffing out the magic that has so many young people in thrall. If he pulls it off, he may yet prove to skeptics that he is indeed a worthy heir to his idol, Jobs — not just a bro who got lucky. “It’s Evan’s show,” says Gallagher, and no matter what, “he’s going to call the shots.”
Danny Fortson Journalist / US West Coast Correspondent The Sunday Times San Francisco, US.
When it comes to entrepreneurship, age 40 is the new 20...and always has been
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f I asked you to describe the prototypical successful entrepreneur, you may share a story mythologized in our culture of a brilliant young man with an idea so good and so disruptive that he just can’t waste any time finishing college. Of course, he never would have considered taking a job in a big corporation. Such places, thought of as employing less gifted automatons, would never suit someone with his passion to set the world on fire with his great idea. Instead, he would take his evident talent to Silicon Valley. There, he would be showered in venture capital, build a team of similarly brilliant twenty-somethings, acquire millions of customers seemingly overnight, and steer his startup to an IPO and himself to the cover of Inc magazine well before his 30th birthday. Oh, how wrong you would be. The truth is that the average entrepreneur is nearly 40 years old. There are more Baby Boomers (ages 53 to 71) starting businesses than Millennials (ages 20 to 36) and even more entrepreneurs in Generation X (ages 37 to 52). What’s more, your odds of starting a company that experiences scale growth, becoming really profitable, only increase with age.
40 Is The New 20 But age, financial security, and experience — most often at an established company — are far more likely predictors of an entrepreneurial career. It turns out that corporations are often far more effective in training entrepreneurs than are most business schools or incubators. Years of working at an established company can payoff by teaching you the tradecraft of sales, managing a workforce and negotiating with suppliers. People in big companies see innovation through the lens of new product development. And, they know that marketing is the critical ingredient that makes it all come together. Fluency in these critical skills is the key to any entrepreneur’s success, not reading textbooks about product-market fit, and certainly not painstakingly constructing a business plan. Any entrepreneur would tell you that such plans never survive first contact with the real world. In my new book, Burn the Business Plan: What Great Entrepreneurs Really Do, I tell the story of Michael Levin to illustrate this point. After years of managing an international steel trading company, Levin invented the idea of creating an online, B2B, market for steel. Because of his previous success and deep industrial knowledge, he secured venture capital in a matter of weeks.
The “Mozart Myth” leads us to believe that if you haven’t started your first company in your twenties, then you’re never going to be an entrepreneur. 14 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
nly after his company was underway did his investors insist he write a business plan, with detailed sales forecasts, staffing strategies, pricing regimens, and financial projections including when he would be able to take the company public. All this had to be in place before he tested his product in the market. When he did go to market, he soon discovered that steelmakers and their customers preferred the existing, relationship-focused approach to buying steel to his more efficient online solution. His company was stalled.
40 Is The New 20 With 15-plus years of professional experience, you’ll have a large and productive network from which you can draw customers, suppliers, and mentors. Though someone 20 years your junior, born into the age of the internet, may have more connections on LinkedIn, it is only through years of work that one can convert an exchanged business contact into a meaningful connection. Who’s more likely to successfully make that first sale or hire?
With visions of startup glory inspired by Zuck or Evan Spiegel in your head, you might wonder if my advice to wait, work inside a big company, and decide if the idea you’ve had when you What Levin discovered by talking with his are in your late thirties is really a better path customers was they really liked was the to becoming a successful entrepreneur. My software he had invented to predict pricing and research at Syracuse University, not to mention identify supply chain problems. His customers years of data acquired and analyzed by the wanted Levin to become a software company Kauffman Foundation, support this view of providing customized solutions to steel how and when to become an entrepreneur and companies. what will improve your chances of starting a business. However, Levin’s board, composed mostly of investors, was married to his business plan So, as you take stock of your career at the start and could not be convinced that a pivot was of this new year, and perhaps worry that you’ve needed. The plan, with its fictional forecasts missed your entrepreneurial moment, fear and mythical customers, operated as a brake not - you’re right on time, and you’re in good on the inevitable evolution of the company, company. which only occurred when Levin bought out his investors and threw out his obsolete plan. Now, in addition to selling steel in the old, conventional way, he also sells software to companies that helps them manage supply chains. He told me, “Making a successful company requires an intimate tango with Carl Schramm customers, not a tight grip on a business plan.” University Professor at SU, It isn’t only corporate experience that makes the mid-career professional better equipped to start up. If you’re nearing 40, you’ve probably paid off your student loans, maybe have equity in a house and comfortable savings safety net. You probably have a spouse whose salary and family benefits will help lessen the risks you’ll assume when you quit your job to build a new company around your dream. 15 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
Author of Burn the Business Plan, Former President of the Kauffman Foundation West Palm Beach, Florida, US.
Carl Schramm, an economist, is University Professor at Syracuse and served as president of the Kauffman Foundation from 2002 to 2012. He can be found at CarlSchramm.com and on Twitter at @CarlSchramm. His book, Burn the Business Plan, is just out from Simon & Schuster.
SURVIVING Your Startup
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Surviving Your Startup
now widely circulated and famous article by Inc. magazine titled The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship unveils the truth behind the typically idealized, romanticized picture of the heroic startup founder. VC’s. Unicorns. IPO’s. Admiration of the masses and glossy magazine covers. It could be me. Or... Losing your life savings. Losing your friends. Even family. Personal debt and bankruptcy. Sacrificing your health. Burnout. Mental illness. Yes, even suicide. The forgotten founders you don’t read about. Those who fell on the startup sword.
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Here’s to all you failed founders, who reached for the stars but didn’t quite make it. It’s true. No doubt about it. Creating something from nothing often entails more than a fair share of risk, stress and sleepless nights. Obstacles. Failure. Rejection. Rinse & Repeat. There may be entrepreneurs out there who had calm winds and smooth sailing from Day 1, but that’s not the experience you should prepare for. Somebody also won the lottery, but that shouldn’t be your plan for life. Most people’s first startup experience will be like sailing across a stormy ocean alone, with no experience in yachting, no life vest, and water leaking in. But that gloomy reality is only your’s, and maybe your spouse’s. You can’t talk about it. If you do, you’re manifesting failure. Who in their right mind would complain to their employees, customers, board, advisors, or investors that it’s actually really REALLY hard? You’re trying to convince everybody that it’s going to be amazing. That things are going better than expected, and massive success is just around the corner. Get on board before we’re famous! Yet, one false step and the whole house of cards collapses.
Surviving Your Startup
Fake it till you make it is a core belief in any person trying to hack together a business from sheer will to succeed. While there is certainly great value in examining both ends of the spectrum, I want to focus on a golden middle that is actionable on a daily basis. Glory or gloom may be around the corner, but what you do today, tomorrow, and each day counts more. If you can live with yourself through the ups and downs, you can survive to fight another day. Depending on your experience and chosen industry, your success factors around product/ market fit, financing, and scalability will vary, so I won’t go there. That’s what accelerators are for. Instead, I’ll talk about ways in which you can battle the day-to-day struggles that all founders face: rejection, stress, and loneliness.
These methods aren’t mine, but I’ve been using them the past two years, so far pretty effectively, in juggling two startups in Bambu and Mission ready.
#1: Be in it for the right reasons Statistics would point that startups are the worst get-rich-quick scheme ever invented. The media bias towards success stories makes it seem the opposite, unfortunately. If you’re in it for the dough, the rough patches will eat you up. Every obstacle will make you doubt whether it will ever generate that sweet cash you so desire. Then again, if you have a real passion for what you’re doing and/or what you’re trying to achieve, it will give you a sense of purpose. Trust me, that’ll come in real handy. 18 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
#2: Blasting through daily rejection Something you can read through the lines of startup blogs and founder interviews is the acceptance of rejection and failure. There is a selection of inspirational posters available to remind you of the gift that is daily rejection. Nothing beats some rejection with a good cup of coffee to kickstart your mornings! It’s mostly a facade though. Humans hate rejection by design. Evolution has given us these massive brains to play the social game, and win. Rejection in evolutionary terms means dying alone in a dark cave, talking to your stick friends. It isn’t healthy. So be grateful. Not for the rejection, but for everything else. Things that make you happy in your life. Things that are going well. The rocks that keep you rooted in place, big or small. Some days it’ll be the little things, like a memorable conversation or something that made you smile. A random compliment you received. Some days it can be the appreciation of good relationships in your life, the beauty of your favorite season outside, or the good health of your children.
Surviving Your Startup
Putting your mind in a place of gratitude when you open your eyes, and when you go to bed has been scientifically proven to change your epigenetics. Meaning the structure of your brains and DNA change if you think good thoughts. Think about it. If sleep is a reboot and regeneration mechanism of the brain, do you want to enter that mode for hours each day with a brain filled with thoughts of revenge, despair, and bitterness? Similarly, as you wake up, is it a good idea to base your day’s thought processes around potential ways to fail today, that nasty email you got last night, or perhaps take a moment to appreciate things that will give you the mental capacity to blast through the insignificant bumps that come along each day? Another great way to get similar perspective is through social support. People who value you for you, not for your achievements or status. It can be friends or family, but not acquaintances or random people at networking events. Importantly though, do not use these people as garbage dumps for your troubles. You should look to them for comfort and perspective, to get away from your tiny bubble of trifling troubles. Don’t tell your kids about your latest series of rejections from investors, ask them about school and the latest happenings at the neighborhood sandbox. Detach from your reality just for a little while, and immerse in theirs.
#3: Putting a cork on stress Stress and startups go together like two peas in a pod. Can’t have one without the other. No wait, of course, you could just have less stress if you didn’t have the startup at all. That works. Other way? Not so much. 19 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
Just a matter of how much, how often, and how you cope with it. Like Drake, stress can go from 0 to 100 real quick. Once it’s up there, you have to double your efforts just to maintain your levels and not go ballistic. Smaller and smaller things start getting under your skin. Even the good things in your life can start taking a different, negative hue. Here are a few ways I’ve found I can limit the downside of stress before it becomes a rampant and self-feeding spiral of destruction. Pills and potions not needed. Daily routines: One seemingly arbitrary place to start, is to simply control the amount of change in your life. Your startup will provide ample amounts of excitement and change, so stabilize everything else. Eat at the same place. Take the same bus. Maintain the same hobbies. Watch the same shows. Keep the same circle of friends. Don’t go looking for extracurricular adventures as sources of extra anxiety. Save all that emotional capacity for the office, and embrace your inner Ned Flanders when you leave. Breathing: For the last year, I’ve maintained a daily practice of breathing. I started from the nice built-in Breathe app on the Apple Watch, which reminds you to take a few deep breaths every hour of the day. I noticed how dramatic the resetting effect could be, right in the middle of that frantic noon email rampage, or in the last minute taxi ride to make it to your next high stakes meeting. A similar experience for your phone is the Oak app.
Surviving Your Startup I’ve since moved on to more powerful methods like Wim Hof, which opens a whole world of exploration within something as simple as taking a breath. The science really backs this one up, as breathing is the only function in your body that is controlled in parallel by both your voluntary and autonomic nervous systems. By controlling your breathing, you can gain some control over other autonomous functions like your heart, immune system, and even digestion. No, this doesn’t qualify you to wear a long leather jacket like Neo from The Matrix. Mindfulness: This is currently way more ontrend than breathing, but at the same time it’s trickier to make it effective as it requires more focus and persistence. For high-pace guys in the startup biz, it can be difficult to sit down and chillax to some mellow ambient tunes without sketching out new battle plans to beat your competition to a pulp inside your head. Luckily there’s a slew of apps out there, like Oak, Calm, and Headspace to work your way up to zen-mode. Personally, I find a good 10min breathing session to give me the same effect, but with more action involved to keep my rushing brain in check. Workouts: In many ways, working out can combine a lot of the benefits of the two categories above. Additionally, it can be used as the ultimate physical purge of all negative and destructive energy built up over another week of bruising startup life. Whether you hit the trails, track, treadmill, or actually punch a bag, it helps to go hard once or twice a week. You’ll be amazed at the sense of emotional rebirth 30mins of physical exertion and pain can bring. You could try Mission ready for this. #4: Co-founders are your co-mmiserators Having a cofounder that you trust enough to share vulnerabilities with, is one of the best-kept secrets of startups. This is another person, perhaps the only person in the whole world, who not only cares as much as you about making it work, but actually lives that 20 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
same reality as you do. The same ups that friends shrug off casually, before moving the conversation back to their favorite Netflix shows. The same downs that you keep from the family, so they wouldn’t worry needlessly. Founders are humans too. Except for Elon, I’m not sure about that guy. As a personal story my cofounder at Bambu, Ned Phillips, has become a huge asset in my life. We laugh at our wins together, and often marvel at the random paths of our successes. We try to laugh at the failures too, while searching for meaning and silver linings. Most importantly, we try to enjoy the minute experiences that make up the journey. We have mutual interests outside of work to keep the relationship grounded, despite our 15 year age difference. People say it gets lonely on the top. Well, it’s also pretty lonely on the bottom. The worries of the world can seem to pile up with no end in sight, and having someone there to share the burden can make all the difference. Cofounders can often bootstrap each other emotionally to remain afloat through the waves of a typical startup journey.
Aki Ranin Thinks about the future a lot. Bambu B2B Robo-Advisory Singapore Currently working on three things to make the future better: 1) Helping people save and invest for the future. 2) Using data to improve people’s health & fitness. 3) Closely tracking the advance of A.I. EXPERTISE: Robo-Advisory, Fintech, Machine Learning, Innovation, B2B, User Experience, Apple iOS VERTICALS: Wealth Management, Digital Banking & Insurance, Health & Fitness
The Path to the
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Path to The Artisan Economy
The value of human imperfection, plus the power of new technologies are inspiring a return of the artisan economy Last year, I gave a presentation on the rising importance of artisanship in a world of perfect machines, and followed it with an article about the one thing computers will never beat us at. I wrote: In the world of the future, automated perfection is going to be common. Machines will bake perfect cakes, perfectly schedule appointments 22 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
and keep an eye on your house. What is going to be scarce is human imperfection. We are still early in the early days of these developments, but weâ€™re already seeing an uptake in artisanship. As Economistâ€™s Ryan Avent writes, the trend offers clues about the future economy:
raft is, in general, far less well-paid than professional work. Yet the benefits it offers — the satisfaction of controlling one’s own destiny, acquiring a range of skills, creating beautiful and delicious things, forming friendships with suppliers and customers — make up for the reduced incomes and ensure that there is a small, steady migration of professionals into the craft economy. Noah Smith depicts craft brewing as one path forward for the middle class, that could serve as a model for other industries:
Path to The Artisan Economy Craft beer offers one small way in which an enterprising, hard-working individual can bootstrap themselves to the middle- or upper-middle-class and accumulate some capital. Finally, digital fabrication is bringing back the principles of artisan economy: As a result, standardized, centralized production is no longer either needed or warranted. Digital masscustomization, or the mass-production of different pieces at the same unit cost, is the universal technical and economic logic of digital manufacturing — the default mode of use of all digital tools.
Azeem Azhar Exponential Thinking, Exponential View London, United Kingdom. Founder of PeerIndex which processes social data using machine learning to identify novel, actionable signals. Startup after management, founder, and adviser roles at Seedcamp, eSouk, AMI Software, PlanetOut, Daylife, EVI & others. Invested in more than 20 early stage companies, with several exits. Product launches and innovation after launching products / running innovation programmes at The BBC, Reuters, The Guardian and The Economist. Formerly a correspondent at The Guardian and The Economist
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I've spoken at business schools such as Harvard Business School, London Business School and IMD and at conferences such as LIFT, ETRE, Latitude59 and others. I've been interviewed by BBC, WSJ, New York Times, The Guardian, The Times, Technology Review, The Daily Telegraph, Le Monde, Bloomberg, Sky News, CNN, Red Herring, Techcrunch, Mashable, VentureBeat, Vogue and others. My columns & articles have been widely published around the globe.
Should we stop using the
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Should We Stop Using The Word Innovation?
Few people know what they mean when they talk about innovation. I’m sorry, but they don’t. They drop the ‘i-bomb’ in meetings and briefs because they’re on a crusade to do something new, cool and trendy, and think sticking the word ‘innovation’ on a chart often accompanied by a logo of a lightbulb - brings clarity to their aspirations. It brings anything but.
was right for the brand, or even answered the objectives. And, whilst there’s nothing wrong with Pokemon Go or holograms, there’s something fundamentally amiss with assuming whatever is on TechCrunch’s homepage will solve all your problems.
Don’t get me wrong: the issue is not that brands and agencies are insincere in their desire to do great, future-facing, progressive work - in fact many do but many also often fail to define what they mean by innovation, or the role for innovation within a strategy.
For this same reason I’ve always been a bit sceptical about sending ‘trends docs’ to clients. Trends are often fleeting by nature, and we barely have time to react, almost as if by January 2018, December 2017’s tech is already the digital equivalent of shellsuits. [Centennials, you might need to Google what a shell-suit is].
As a Group Innovation Director, I’m always urging people be bold and progressive. But I’m often frustrated that, like a wayward firework, marketers’ energy and enthusiasm for innovation are not matched by any sense of direction. I once heard someone state: ‘we should do something with Pokemon Go, because that’s cool right now’ and another who wanted ‘something big, like holograms’ without a moment’s thought as to whether it
Of course, one solution is to stop using the word innovation entirely. One consultant in the US banned its use from meetings, and in 2012, even the Wall Street Journal noted ‘the term has begun to lose meaning’, discovering over 250 books with ‘innovation’ in the title had hit the shelves in the last three months. Or maybe we need a better word, and we should break out the thesaurus.
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Actually, that’s not the case. It’s not that the word is unfit for purpose or inaccurate. It’s just that it’s so inherently broad in its meaning, that its application is subjective. Luckily, PHD think we’ve found a way round that. I’ll tell you the solution in a minute. But let’s start with two brief definitions of innovation to help set up the point I’m trying to make. Billionaire businessman, PayPal genius, and Facebook investor Peter Thiel, declares in his book Zero To One, that unless a human has never cast eyes on it before, or it’s a 100% mold-breaking original, you can’t call something an innovation.
imilarly, Clay Christiansen explains true innovators who master ‘the new’ before ‘the existing’ often win the race. He urges companies to monetize future-facing disciplines first, because improvements in ‘the existing’ will come naturally anyway, as the industry is swept along by the raising of the minimum standard. He can be found on Youtube opining about Apple’s dedication to cracking the touchscreen technology first, knowing that the iPhone’s initially appalling battery life would gradually improve as battery tech matured overall. The lesson: always reach for the sky, and your feet will follow.
Should We Stop Using The Word Innovation? of the same concept, often using the same examples to prove their point. ‘Radicals’ like Thiel and Christiansen point to companies like Tesla, whose market-defining innovation and disruptive ethos forced automotive rivals to play catch-up in the wake of their trailblazing path. ‘Incrementalists’ on the other hand are keen to remind everyone that Elon Musk did not invent the electric car. Thus Musk’s genius lay not in his invention of a new market, but in his ability to do everything his rivals did, but just that little bit better - better hull welding, better battery technology, better coding, better customer service - and it’s this accretion that gives the illusion of a game-changing product, when in reality it’s a procession of smaller improvements chained end-to-end.
Thiel and Christiansen are purists, and make a case for innovation being about the big idea, So when we respond to clients requests for the radical departure, or the game changer. For innovation, which form of innovation do them, the cutting edge is the only place to be. we need? The incremental innovations that slowly accrue to rejuvenate a brand? Or the But there is a rival camp. In 2016, US Professors pioneering inventions that streak across the Andrew Russell and Lee Vinsel authored a sky like a comet? rather spicy piece for Aeon magazine entitled ‘Hail The Maintainers’ that took an axe to the The answer is clear: we need both concept of innovation. It’s not that Russell and Vinsel don’t believe in progress or forward motion, rather they are strident about the dangers of fetishising the ‘new’ at the expense of maintaining, upgrading or improving what already exists. Incremental improvements or small turns of the screw, they argue, are more valuable than the constant craving for the cutting edge. Steven Dubner from Freakonomics Radio was so taken with their work that he went on to dedicate two podcasts - In Praise of Maintenance and In Praise of Incrementalism to the subject, examining the value of marginal gains or micro-innovations across all areas of business, rather than the lust for one, big blowout idea. These rival camps offer two different glimpses 26 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
Should We Stop Using The Word Innovation?
ncremental innovation will never allow you to leapfrog your competition, like radical innovation. But an obsession with radical innovation will deliver nothing if you neglect the baseline upgrades you need to support your brand’s more adventurous endeavors.
Fortunately, it’s not a binary choice. The ideal strategy re-envisions innovation not as a vague, subjective concept, but as a spectrum of opportunities, with the two opposing definitions discussed as poles, and with many gradations between. PHD’s proprietary innovation model is built around that spectrum; it embraces that subjectivity and codifies and categorizes it, end to end. At one pole, it identifies opportunities to apply baseline innovations to existing infrastructure. In our industry, that’s an extra turn of the screw for the programmatic budget or deploying AI to optimise your campaigns. Also maybe it’s trying new social media formats that use accelerometers or geo-location. Not groundbreaking, but steady, competent improvements. At the opposite pole, the spectrum also surfaces world-beating opportunities that no brands have ever attempted before. Maybe we’re talking Magic Leap. Or the first-ever 8K hologram projection. Or the world’s first Lego ad-break. The crux of the matter is this: when clients ask for innovation, don’t reach for that trends doc or scramble for a way to shoe-horn Mixed Reality into a campaign. Instead, view the brief through a wide-angle lens; one that sees the whole vista of innovation - from neat, smart solutions to original, award-winning game-changing ideas The goal is to get to a point where instead of
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hearing: ‘We want some innovation on this campaign,’ you hear: ‘We want some big ideas for this campaign. And some small ideas too’. Then you’re really innovating.
So, actually, maybe we don’t need a new word for innovation after all. Instead, we need to work harder to define innovation before we start, and communicate that all forms of innovation, modest improvements through to grand plans, can all work wonders for brands.
Phil Rowley Group Innovation Director @ PHD | Marketing Futurist | Speaker PHD Global Business London, United Kingdom. Global Innovation Director, media futurist & conference speaker with 18 years’ experience from London, Dublin & Auckland Key skills: Evangelising about the future. Simplifying the complex. Energising clients. Hastening the inevitable. Co-author of - and speaker for - PHD's book 'Merge | The closing gap between technology and us'
The Importance of Visual Elements in Your Brand Strategy
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Visual Elements in Brand Strategy
When you’re building your brand, including the development of your story, personality, core message, brand promise and so on, you need to be sure to include a strategy for visual components as well. No matter how great your business and messaging are, let’s face it, visuals are usually the most effective way to capture your audience’s attention and build brand recognition, provided you’re implementing these visual aspects correctly. By including visuals in your overall marketing strategy, you’ll help your brand’s long-term success. There’s no denying that today’s marketing world is becoming increasingly visual, and you must be able to adapt to that strategically. Let’s take a deeper look.
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Visual Elements in Brand Strategy
What is visual brand identity and why is it so important?
rand identity involves all of the moving pieces that together represent how your brand is perceived, and your visual identity includes the visual components of that. The way you present yourself visually is more than just colors and design. Brands who are consistent with their visual identity resonate more effectively with their audience than those who are not. Your visual identity is an exact reflection of your company, so you need to put in the time and research to make sure it’s represented accurately and positively, and that it is in line with your spoken and written messaging.
The importance of knowing your audience
our visual strategy really begins with understanding who your audience is and who you’re trying to attract. If you don’t know this, nothing about your visual brand, or marketing and operational efforts in general, will matter. Keep in mind, the visual aspects of your brand aren’t for you. They are for your consumers, so be sure to have that in the back of your mind at all times.
How to make your visual brand identity stand out
e memorable – Aim to make your visual brand so strong that your audience can glance briefly at the visual elements and know exactly what they’re looking at, even without any context. For example, the image to the right doesn’t have any copy, but avid social media users would know instantly that that’s the Instagram logo. Be unique – It should truly stand apart from the competition. Now, to truly be effective with this, you must have a deep understanding of who the competition is and what their visual brand identity looks like as well. Make everything match – Each element of your visual brand should be cohesive and tie together effortlessly. Things to consider for creating a strong visual brand identity
Get your logo right You will likely go through many iterations of this, but it’s worth it. Your logo will be stamped on almost everything that you do so you want to make sure you do it well. Your personality should shine through it and it should be distinctly you…no pressure.
Understanding their wants and needs will help you identify how you need to present yourself to them.
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Visual Elements in Brand Strategy
Create a consistent color palette
f you look at well-known brands, they all use consistent color palettes (who doesn’t think “red” when they think of Coca Cola?). These big-name brands are consistent with their colors throughout their texts, images, and designs because it helps make them more recognizable. Choose just a handful of colors and apply them to everything you do. The colors you choose should reflect the personality of your brand, so if you run a daycare, for example, you may want to use bright colors. If you run a law firm, you may want to be a bit more conservative with the colors you choose. If you look at my Duct Tape Marketing site, you’ll see a lot of shades of blue used across the board, including my logo, text, and site design. This wasn’t by accident.
Choose a font that matches your brand personality
long with your color palette, you need to be mindful of the font you use as it can speak volumes about the type of business you are. For example, if you run a serious business, you may want to stay away from Comic Sans, but if your business is light-hearted and fun and that’s how you want to be portrayed, then that may be the right font for you. In addition to matching your personality, you must also ensure it matches your audience’s perception of you and sits well with them.
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Choose images that address your audience and reflect your brand
t this point, this should go without saying, but I’ve seen many companies use images on their website that quite frankly make what they do more confusing than if they just didn’t use any imagery at all. It’s OK to have fun with images but be sure they tie back to your brand and speak to your ideal customers.
Visual Elements in Brand Strategy
Don’t forget about layout
any brands believe that if they have their logo, color, and fonts, then they’re good to go, but the reality is they’re not quite finished yet.
How those elements flow together is equally important. How you present them as a unified strategy can truly make or break your brand recognition. Use the visuals to bring out emotions The more of an emotional connection you can make with your audience, the more likely they’ll be to trust you and eventually buy from you. What do you want your audience to think and feel when they come across your brand? Ask yourself these questions, and remember, visuals can more quickly tell customers whether your brand is a good fit for them more than words can.
Test your initial concepts
With all aspects of marketing, you must remember to put strategy first. It is the backbone of everything that you do. If you can get that in place, creating the visual elements will be much easier because you’ll truly know who your business is, what it represents, and Once you have the visual component solidified, who you want to attract. document your style guide within your company’s processes. Should you ever need That, to me, sounds like a recipe for success. to bring on new designers, this will be key in ensuring nothing gets missed as you move forward. ike anything with marketing, you should test and optimize your visual elements until you land on one that truly resonates with your ideal customers.
John Jantsch Helping marketing consultants generate more clients and more profit Duct Tape Marketing Kansas City, Missouri, US. I started my own marketing consulting practice many years ago and found that, while I could do work for organizations large and small, my heart was in serving small business owners. The only problem was it was tough to serve a small business in the traditional way as they didn’t have the same budgets and resources as much larger organizations – but they had the same challenges. https://ducttapemarketing.com/ or http://ducttapemarketingconsultant.com 32 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
LEARNING “PRODUCT IDENTITY” FROM THE GREAT MASTERS
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Learning Product Identity
lbrecht Dürer (1471-1528), the renowned German artist, once referred to his colleague Joachim Patinir (1480-1524) as “the good landscape painter,” a compliment unusual among artists with big egos. Indeed, Patinir was one of the pioneers of Western landscape painting within the early Flemish Renaissance, back at the turn of the Sixteenth Century. I am particularly attached to Patinir since his oil on wood “Landscape with Charon Crossing the Styx” remains as one of my vivid memories from a visit to the Prado Museum in Madrid when I was I child, and since has remained as one of my favorite paintings. I was then impressed by the subject of the work, quite scatological. In Greek mythology, Charon was the ferryman who carried the souls of the death across the Styx lake
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and brings them to paradise –or to Hell, as seen in Patinir’s painting featured above. In ancient Greece, the tradition while mourning a death person was to place a coin in the mouth of the deceased in order to pay for the ferryman’s service. But I was particularly impressed by the craft of Patinir’s painting: the intensity of its colors, the deep blue that contrasts with the sharp line of the crepuscular flax horizon. True, the size of the figures is not proportioned, but this enhances the personality of the protagonist. When reading Patinir’s biography, you may become fascinated at how he ran his workshop from a business perspective and how he cared for a premium positioning of his works. He actively cultivated his own image from the start by signing his early works, not a generalized custom in those days, a fact that reveals his concern for reputation and brand image. He was also able to adapt to the preferences of wealthy merchantcustomers by focusing on subjects that resembled cartography, contained allusions to trade or references to travel, an attitude that reveals his smart orientation to customers. In addition, he developed a distinctive style, a “product identity,” that is still recognizable today, another competitive advantage.
Learning Product Identity
H owever, according to some art historians, Patinir was not as prolific as some of his contemporary painters. This is due, first to the fact that he did not have many apprentices in his workshop -apparently only one personwhereas other painters in Antwerp had as many as ten.
econd, he did not produce many copies of the same work at a time when replicating a painting was the only way to exploit economies of scale. It is interesting to note, in comparison, that the workshop of Joos Van Cleeve, located in the same city at that time, produced series of up to twenty-eight replicas of the same work. Alternatively, Patinir opted for a differentiation business strategy, enhancing the exclusivity of his works. 35 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
Third, Patinir enjoyed a comfortable life since his first wife belonged to a wealthy family and was not probably pressed to work for monetary gain. He probably evolved as a perfectionist, as shown in the style and features of his works. Managers can learn a lot from the lives of the Old Masters, who were real innovators in their times. Furthermore, attending the Old Masters may enhance the taste for the fine arts and, as the philosopher David Hume suggested, improve emotional intelligence
Santiago Iniguez President, IE University, IE Business School Madrid, Spain Iñiguez has worked as a management consultant and has played an active role in the field of quality control and development of management education in Europe. He is Chairman of board of directors of GFME (Global Foundation for Management Education) and member of the Board of Directors of AACSB, and the Awarding Body of EQUIS (European Quality Improvement System). He serves on the boards of Renmin University Business School (China), CENTRUM (Universidad Católica, Perú), Antai Business School (Jiao Tong University, China), Renmin University Business School (China), Mazars University (France), the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA, Russia), and FGV-EASP Fundaçao Getulio Vargas (Brazil). He is also member of the Board of IS Association, Denmark. Iniguez is a regular speaker at international conferences and frequently contributes in different journals and media on higher education and executive development. Iñiguez is also President of the IE Fund in the US.
The Art of Interviewing Your Interviewer: Data Science Flavored 36 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
The Art of Interviewing Your Interviewer
hen considering a new job, there are two steps that you have to be prepared for: first researching the company/team, and then interviewing with them. In both cases, you should compile a comprehensive list of questions that you need to be answered. The following is a list that I have put together for myself, but I’ve decided to share it with others and get your thoughts on what else should be asked. Some of the questions are pretty generic, but some are more specific to data science and targeted at helping you cut through the noise and understand better what the roles entail. Part of my reason for putting this list together (beyond organizing my own thoughts) is to help aspiring data scientists get the most out of their career prospects. Hopefully, this will inspire you to think more critically/creatively about what you should ask when you approach
someone from the company/team you’d like to join, and to be more successful in pursuing what you want. Having a list like this becomes even more important when you start looking at job ads (and realize that they contain nearly zero information about what you’d be doing in those roles), and when you realize that “data science” means many things to many people. So, it is critical that you find out what the roles entail by asking people working there/ interviewing you/ etc., and asking them to give you examples. Another important side effect of asking questions is that you become more memorable for the interviewer (esp since most people don’t do this). By asking relevant and well-researched questions, you show that you are serious about your career and you are not just looking for a job. This could completely change/improve the dynamics between you and the hiring team throughout the interview and later if you join them. [I added this paragraph after some good discussion with people in the comments; thanks to those who contributed]. Here are a few important rules about the questions you should be asking: Ask anecdotal questions to get a realistic picture of what’s happening rather than what they think should ideally happen (remember, people tend to tell you the fun/awesome parts of their jobs and leave out the ugly hairy realities) Ask follow up questions. Remember that what you are trying to achieve here is a deep understanding of how the company/ team that you want to join works rather than ticking away a bunch of questions. Ask about any inconsistencies in things you hear from them and make sure you’re clear about things.
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The Art of Interviewing Your Interviewer
Remember that you work for a team, not a company. Unless you are talking to a startup that has only one team, you should be asking specifically about the team that you are targeting. Teams within a company can be very different, with very contrasting experiences.
Listen very carefully to their answers. A lot of the time they are telling you the truth, but you choose to ignore it, thinking that it canâ€™t be that bad, or you simply donâ€™t read between the lines. If what you hear is not convincing, be ready to research more or walk away. Talk to as many people as you can from the same team. People have different experiences and points of view. The more you see, the better you know. Now that you know how to get the most out of your questions, here are my suggestions:
What do you do every day at work? Walk me through your last week schedule Here you are trying to understand what they really do at work rather than what they think they should say they do at work. Once they answer this question, you want to follow up with a question that puts their answer in context. Is that typically how you work or was this week an exception? What made it an exception? How often does this sort of exception happen?
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What project(s) are you currently working on? What have you done previously? What were the deliverables of your projects? Did any of the things you did make a business impact? If no, why, if yes, how?
Is this what the rest of your team does as well? Are those outcomes typical or are they exceptions? What made them exceptions? How often does this sort of exception happen? What skills do you use most often? What was a skill that you were able to readily use when you started? What was a skill that you had to learn?
Do the technical people in your team all have these skills? What are their backgrounds? How does your company/team support people to develop necessary skills? How does mentorship happen in your team/ company? What is your work environment like? Is it an environment that encourages interaction with people you work with? If not, why? And how do you collaborate then?
What is the interaction with business people like? What is the interaction with technical people like? How do they collaborate? What is the interaction with senior leadership (people who have the authority to make things happen) like? What is the gender balance in the team? How often are you allowed/expected to work remotely? Tell me something about the culture of your team/ company that you love Tell me something about the culture of your team/ company that you would change if you could.
The Art of Interviewing Your Interviewer
What is the manager like? How do they deal with pressure? Do they micromanage? Do they give too much freedom to the point that you feel there is no direction? This is extremely important. You need to remember that you are working for a manager and that person controls your ability to be a star or completely fail at your job. So, you need to make sure that you get along with this person. You never want to agree to work on a team before talking directly to the manager. How did your manager get where they are? How does the manager evaluate your performance? Tell me about a time that you felt your manager was great Tell me about a time that you felt your manager could have been better Tell me about a time that you had a disagreement with your manager and how they handled it? How did you handle it?
Was there someone in this role before? What happened to them? Or is it a new role? How did you decide that there was a need for this role? Here you are trying to understand if they really need a new data scientist or if they are just trying to fill up a quota that is mandated to them. The challenge with this question is that bigger companies give you corporate/template answers 39 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
and small companies give you fantasies that they donâ€™t have the scale to meet. So, you need to listen carefully and follow up with more questions. Why does the company (business people in the company) see value in data science? What are they trying to achieve that canâ€™t be done without data scientists? Are they serious about it? As in, have they figured out all the governance/infrastructure/â€Ś issues and now is the right time to add data scientists? Or are they just hiring in case they need them later?
What is your typical tech stack like? What are the typical data sizes you deal with? Real-time or batch processes? How does access to data work? How does access to infrastructure work? Who supports that?
What is the typical career path for technical people? What growth opportunities are there? This is also a very important question. It shows that you are focused on progress and you want to know that you have the opportunity to progress in your career.
Who is the most senior person on the team? Are they technical or people managers? What other options were available to them, aside form their current path? What kind of support do you get in terms of developing new skills? Is learning from other technical people around you facilitated/encouraged? How? Do you have dedicated research/learning time? Do you actually get to do it or are you overwhelmed with other things and never get to it?
The Art of Interviewing Your Interviewer
How many people have left the team in the past year and why? How many people have joined the team in the past year and why? How easy is it to move to another team within the organization? If they have hired many people: does the team/company have the resources/infrastructure to support such rapid growth? What is the reason for hiring so many people? If they havenâ€™t hired anyone: is the team producing enough results/value to expand? What is the current composition of the team and why? How is it projected to change in the near future?
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Who else should I talk to in your team and why? Can you introduce me to them?
Amir Feizpour Sr Manager, Data Science @ RBC | Scientific Advisor @ SEMA | Speaker RBC Toronto, Canada. I am an accomplished researcher with experience in physics, analytics, and data science. I have a deep passion for exploring and visualising data, and subsequently building models based on my insight. My work relies heavily on extracting useful information from large and messy data sets using techniques including machine learning, regression models, data analysis and visualisations, primarily using Python. I have a newly found interest in Natural Language Processing.
Brands taking a Political Stance. Boom.
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Brands Taking a Political Stance
t the beginning of December 2017, President Trump issued an executive order to greatly shrink two national parks in Utah. The controversial decision is the largest rollback of protected federal land ever. In response, numerous businesses have come out against the decision, using their brand to make a political statement. As news feeds were lighting up, I saw Patagonia post about the issue on Facebook, leading readers to their website that was redone with a stark black-andwhite statement: “The President Stole Your Land.” Shortly after, I received an email from backcountry.com, urging people to protect these parks. Other outdoor recreation companies followed suit within the day.
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Traditionally, brands have shied away from taking such a clear stance on political issues. Not only do they risk offending employees from various parts of the political spectrum, but they risk offending the customers who oppose their viewpoints. Taking the role of Switzerland seemed to be the best business bet. But in today’s political climate where the country is more polarized than it has been in decades, the rules are changing. Taking a political stance is an option in the playbook, and when done right, can boost sales and brand loyalty. The key is to know your audience well, align your statements precisely with your corporate cultural beliefs and be cautious your stand doesn’t cross over into discrimination.
Brands Taking a Political Stance
Modern times mean many people want to support companies that align with their values. They want to put their dollars toward a business they feel good about. A large part of this is being driven by socially conscious millennials, whose buying power grows with each passing year.
Some of the most recent examples of brands taking a stand come from the more liberal side. Target took on gay rights, numerous companies came out against Trump’s travel ban, and sponsors reacted to the NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem. Conservative companies are taking a stand, too. One of the most noteworthy examples is Hobby Lobby, which cited religious reasons for not offering certain types of birth control through its health insurance programs. (This resulted in a lawsuit that went all the way to the Supreme Court. Hobby Lobby won.) Another conservative example: When Chickfil-A CEO Dan Cathy spoke about the company supporting “the biblical definition of a family unit” in 2012, there were boycotts and protests. Despite the negatives, sales soared 12 percent. There’s no doubt that taking a political stand as a business is a risk, particularly for small businesses. Take, for example, the Colorado baker who declined to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. He took a stance, but it may have crossed a line into discrimination, and the Supreme Court is hearing the case this week. 43 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
While the court deliberates, he has decided to stop making wedding cakes completely, which he notes was previously 40 percent of his business. This has caused him to reduce staff size from 10 to four. The future of his business is unknown. If businesses want to stand up for what they believe in by making a public statement, they have every right to. However, it’s important to pick the most meaningful battles, maintain relationships with key influencers and, if possible, be the first to take a stand. If you do so in a way that appeals to your target audience, you’ll stand out in a positive way that won’t soon be forgotten. What do you think? Have you ever boycotted a brand for taking a stance?
Molly Moseley SVP Marketing & Client Success, LinkUp Job Search Engine Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul Area, US Molly is a strategic, innovative, and driven professional with expertise in recruitment advertising, product management, marketing and branding internet-based products, technologies and services. She has proven ability to cultivate relationships with cross-functional teams, including sales, operations, marketing, and IT as well as external groups such as, customers, agencies, and vendors. Molly is also a founding member of LinkUp Job Search Engine and has over ten years of experience in the recruitment advertising industry. She works closely with key members of enthusiast, consumer and business media, vendors, agencies, and direct clients on a daily basis. Now as SVP of Marketing and Agency Relations at LinkUp, Molly leads all Marketing efforts for the company and continues to help build the best job site on the web today.
Can tailwind companies fully deliver their promise in 2018?
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t’s been a thrilling year and one of great polarization in the fortunes of “tailwind companies” and “headwind companies.” The tailwind companies, mostly considered to be tech companies, are rapidly growing as their innovations create new or redefine traditional industries, while headwind companies, bluechip companies with a rich history and significant scale to defend, are struggling to stay relevant amid the tech revolution. In a recent post, I focused on some of the challenges headwind companies must urgently overcome and some actions they can take to re-inspire investor, partner, customer and employee confidence. In this post, I will highlight tailwind companies, which are wellpositioned to capitalize on many positive trends (that are by now well reflected in their valuation) and I will outline the significant challenges they face in 2018. The world’s seven most valuable companies (in the US, the “FAAMG” (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google) and in China, Alibaba and Tencent that together with Baidu make the “BAT”) are not alone in the tailwind group. There are a couple dozen additional public companies, still almost exclusively 45 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
headquartered in US and China. In fact, the share of some star tailwind companies in this next group has skyrocketed even faster than the top seven. These companies are smaller, but they have a clear leadership position in a market they pioneered. Among them are Netflix, Tesla, Nvidia, Salesforce.com, and PayPal. As of December 20th, their combined market cap was $420 billion. That’s nearly 20 times the valuation of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), even though HPE’s current revenues, profit, and positive cash flow are higher than that of these five combined. There are also a couple hundred private companies valued at more $1b (“Unicorns”), collectively valued at over $750 billion. Most are well-positioned to benefit from a new digital business model or emerging technology. Even though profitability is low for this group of companies, there is an assumption that when the land-grabbing phase ends, the winner will be able to rapidly improve profitability. Amazon is the quintessential model here; it sells nearly half of online goods in the US and controls about a third of the global cloud market. Yet it continues to sacrifice profits for growth, and the market supports this strategy of investing in its competitive advantage now, vs. monetizing sales now. Therefore, tailwind companies are winning against headwind ones, not just because they have a strong relative position in an attractive market, but also because they can invest more. Amazon is spending more R&D than any other company right now, and somehow this doesn’t seem as crazy as it might have two years ago. What’s more, it’s inspiring the Chinese to follow suit. Netflix is spending $6 billion this year on original programming (and planning $8 billion next year, which is close to its total revenues in 2016). It’s also hard to keep track of Tesla’s rapidly expanding Capex, and they do not yet have a track record of running at-scale operation.
Three challenges tailwind companies face in 2018 ust as the current success of the FAAMG and BAT is stirring investors to bet more on other tailwind companies, any major problems they will face will reverberate and affect all tailwind companies, and can threaten future financing and their ability to fully pursue their aggressive growth strategies. I believe some of these problems are inevitable and perhaps even imminent. Competition is intensifying, and 2017 has seen a shift in the way the public and regulators perceive the largest technology companies.
There are three major issues I am watching closely:
1. Tighter regulation and deterioration of public trust
n the west, the concentration of power, wealth and influence wielded by tech giants is increasingly viewed with suspicion; some even say insidious monopolies. This will lead to new regulation which, as with the debate about 46 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
net-neutrality, will be complicated to write and may have unpredictable consequences. Eventually, the regulations will aim to weaken monopolistic powers and inhibit tailwind companies growth and/or profitability. To me, the story of the year was Facebook’s admission that its online tools had allowed advertisers to target self-described “Jew haters.” This followed news about how the Russians used the social network to influence elections in the US and UK. The public now knows more about how executives from Google or Facebook can, at least theoretically, use their tools and data to shape the outcome of elections. These stories point to a troubling future. The two companies take advantage of a growing amount of data on all of us to increase their share of online advertising (their primary monetization engine) which already stands at over 60%. To address concerns, they recently committed to hiring thousands of checkers to identify cases in which their data is being misused. This move may prove to be both futile and too late. A couple of years ago Alphabet dropped Google’s well-known motto, “Don’t be evil.” When you are a market leader, inaction (especially when the action goes against self-interest) can be as devastating as evil intentions. This is something that even the most well-intentioned leaders in these companies will need to grapple with to maintain public support.
2. Competition among ‘frenemies’
predict competition will intensify between the tech giants in 2018. The capital markets value tailwind companies at big multiples on the basis of significant opportunities in the future. But can they all share the rewards in harmony?
Tailwind Companies It’s hard to understand how ecosystems interact, who competes with whom, and how companies are also partnering with each other. These ‘frenemy’ relationships are not sustainable. It’s been said that leading a technology company is like playing three-dimensional chess. Forget that. Bezos alone is now playing ten-dimensional chess and keeps adding pieces to the table with Walmart in its core business; Microsoft and Google battling it for Cloud services; Google, Apple, Facebook and others to set the standards for voice recognition and intelligence of things; Flipkart in India; Grocery retailers; Google, Netflix and media companies; and Alibaba everywhere else. The tailwind companies, and especially FAAMG and BAT, are also hoarding engineering and data science talent (while poaching it from each other). In recent years, they were able to fund much of the war for talent with equity payoffs, but as their shares inevitably slowdown or even experience a correction, it can start to affect the bottom line.
3. China going global
017 made it clear that there is an emerging global battle for AI supremacy. In China, the government is endorsing its leading champions and promises global leadership by 2030. The huge size of China’s consumer market (it has more digital native consumer than the US’ entire population) and the speed in which they adopt new technologies, could allow Chinese tech companies to leapfrog their western peers. This is already happening with digital payments, e-commerce, and electric vehicles and will happen soon with mixed reality and face recognition technology. The concentration of power in China among 47 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu is far greater than in the US. For example, in 2016, BAT provided 42% of the VC funding in the country (compared with 5% by FAAMG). Among the two giants, Alibaba and Tencent have a strong track record at normalizing competition among themselves (a duopoly is easier to manage than an oligopoly, especially when the government is helping). It is just a question of time before these companies find better ways to attract western customers or disrupt the profit pools of the FAAMG in other emerging markets.
Yuval Atsmon SVP, Advisory Sectors Globality, Inc. London, United Kingdom. I’m the global leader of Globality’s consulting practice. I am actively working to grow Globality’s client base, further extend the large network of outstanding boutique firms and deepen the relationships with core clients. Previously, I was a Senior Partner at McKinsey McKinsey and the global leader of McKinsey Growth and Innovation practice. Over the years I have worked with executives from hundreds of multinational companies on topics of strategy and business transformation, with expertise in growth, innovation, consumer insights and commercial excellence. I previously spent six years in Shanghai, where I led the Strategy Practice for the Greater China region, helping international companies to navigate China’s rapidly-changing economic landscape and working with government agencies to leverage consumer insights and private-sector collaboration for economic development. I also led McKinsey’s Insights China consumer market intelligence group. Outside of my client work, I’m a prolific author and frequently contribute to the McKinsey Quarterly and the Harvard Business Review online.
Change the Script:
It’s time to drop the term ‘consumer’
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Change the Script
Marketers all use shorthand terms – abbreviations and short, easilyremembered phrases to identify certain market and audience segments.
Any meeting with a brand team will probably see references to millennials, silver surfers, the pink pound and so on.
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ut are they doing themselves – and their audience – a disservice by pigeonholing people this way? And even worse, are they causing problems by potentially antagonizing those customers when those terms leak outside the marketing trade media and into common parlance? Look at one of the most commonly used words in the marketing lexicon: ‘consumer.’ Our recent research among 2,000 Brits found that 10% of the UK population actually find this term to be offensive. That might sound like a modest percentage, but it represents 6.5 million people. Why did they dislike it? They said it felt patronizing, and manipulative, and made people sound like mindless animals. Think about it – consuming stuff plays a big part in the average day of a worker drone such as a termite or army ant, but do they approach their prey with the same level of conscious sophistication, emotional and cerebral decision-making and subtlety as a shopper approaches which brand of luxury chocolate or fabric conditioner to buy? At the risk of annoying the etymologists out there, I’d be inclined to think they don’t. When the people in our survey asked which other words might be used instead of ‘consumer,’ terms like ‘shopper,’ ‘audience’ or ‘people’ were suggested – terms that seem to imply greater active choice. As one respondent said: “I’m a person above all… I hate the idea of being characterized by what I buy.” Given that audience segmentation is such a vital part of the marketing process, it’s not surprising that shorthand terms have become integral to how the industry speaks. The problem is that language is more than just how we communicate an idea – and an epithet of a group affects how we think about that group and potentially even dehumanizes those within.
Change the Script
hen George Orwell called advertising “the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket,” he understood the dangers of treating people as mindless homogeneous groups. Unfortunately, many of the industry’s favorite terms are problematic for exactly those reasons. Among many parts of the LGBTQ community, for example, the phrase pink pound is unpalatable. In a 3,000-respondent survey UM ran via gay/bisexual male meet-up app Grindr in March 2017, we found that 42% of respondents considered the term offensive. It’s disliked for perpetuating stereotypes, segregating the community, and for incorrectly implying that the audience is particularly affluent. Meanwhile, the first word of silver surfer might seem innocuous but brings feeble white-haired grannies to mind. And if marketers refer to eco-warriors, it hardly generates the mental image of the sensible, everyday people who have become the world’s biggest purchasers of sustainable products. This verbal shorthand also encourages laziness of thinking. Not all ‘millennials’ want the same things, shop the same way and demand the same approach from their preferred brands. Marketers need to be far more disciplined in how they segment and approach their markets, and shouldn’t presume to rely on default archetypes. If they do the correct work, they can understand the tastes, motivations, and fears of their audiences at a more granular level and create messaging that engages and resonates even more deeply. Perhaps most importantly, given changes such as the recent announcements by the ASA regarding how gender roles should be portrayed in advertising, they can avoid dangerous and offensive stereotyping. They can instead be more thoughtful and respectful 50 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
in how they approach every part of their audience – and be more trusted as a result. For example, the UM Women in Ads research last year revealed that three quarters (77%) of women claimed they find the way women are generally portrayed in advertising to be stereotypical – and that 62% of those who identify as feminist would be more likely to buy products by brands that challenge stereotypes of women.
offensive, and can lead to ways of thinking that could even damage brands in the long run. It’s an odd linguistic environment for an industry that’s all about bringing brands and customers closer together. So perhaps it’s time to reappraise what words we all choose to use, whether we’re communicating in writing or in our everyday spoken relations.
Our motivation should be to persuade people Curiously, there’s to subscribe to brands another factor in the (e.g., lean into us) semantics of marketing through a transparent that should also be upside, rather than to raising eyebrows. try to shoehorn ideas It’s unclear exactly and goods onto them. how this came about, but a lot of the terminology of the industry has a military connotation: we talk of ‘campaigns,’ of ‘targeting’ people and ‘launching’ products. This language, by its very nature, creates an atmosphere of antagonism between Michael Albert Brown marketers and customers and seems Head of Insight designed to diminish UM Worldwide the other side and London, UK. portray it as an enemy. Clearly, some of the most common terms and jargon can be problematic and unintentionally
Gut Pheeling System Our 3 Brains
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Gut Pheeling System
“I have looked in the mirror ever y morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” -
Aristotle spoke of three modes of persuasion in any situation. Logos, Pathos and Ethos. Logos appeals to logic, where we persuade by using reason, proof, statistics.
Pathos is an appeal to emotion; this is where we convince others by creating an emotional response. We appeal to emotions.
Going with your Gut
Have you ever heard someone regret going with Ethos is an appeal to ethics, where we persuade his or her gut? We usually only hear “I should others by our credibility. If we are successful have trusted my gut.” Equally, we often ask and have a proven track record, for example, each other, “What does your heart tell you?” it is logical to others that we are trustworthy. We often make decisions with our heart and Therefore, we are in a better position to override what our head and guts tell us. persuade.
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Gut Pheeling System
ometimes we make decisions, and we can’t quite put our finger on it, but they don’t sit right with us. It is a very common experience to have “a feeling in our bones.” It is very common to feel conflicted with decisions.
This happens when our brains (plural) are trying to tell us something but are unable to in our everyday “logical” language. Our brain in our skull is the closest we have to a logical language (logos), we listen to this, often it is actually the voice in our heads (our thoughts) and not our brains at all. Our subconscious cannot speak to us in the same logical way. It uses the tools it has at its disposal and communicates by emitting an intuitive feeling (pathos). Often, this intuitive feeling grasps relevant information much sooner than our logical brain does. The gut holds information that has been gathered over many years (and perhaps even in DNA memory) that is not translatable to our logical brain.
Let’s call the brain in our skull, “the logos brain.” This brain is the logical brain, the conscious one, the one responsible for thinking, perception, and cognition. It is the logical processor of information. Let’s call the second brain, “the pathos brain.” When we witness something emotional, a touching act of love or a cute smile from a baby we often put our hand on our heart. When leading a business, from a business perspective, we need to not only win the minds of our people (logos), we need to win their hearts. This is where the values of a company reside. Likewise, this is where our personal values reside.
Let’s call the last brain, “the ethos brain” or “the gut-brain” (my own gut tells me that this name doesn’t quite work 100% btw, but I am going with it to fit this thesis). The gut goes beyond the heart; the heart is emotion, the gut The remarkable thing is that there is a scientific is our essence. Our gut is extremely concerned with our self-preservation. As we explored reason for this. on the innovation show with Jill Whalen when discussing anxiety, the gut will rebel if it does In actual fact, we have three brains. not feel right. It will make you feel sick. Our Three Brains: Head, Heart, and Gut I see this as our guts trying to communicate us; it is trying to tell us something in the language Our brains are powerful networks of neurons. it speaks. It can’t speak logically, like the logos Many of us are unaware that we have similar brain does, but it finds a way. This reminds me neurons to our head brain, in our hearts and of when Lassie tells people there is a problem guts. Let us briefly look at these three brains with her language of barking. and the function they serve. Our gut also communicates in another way. It can communicate through our state. How we feel can become a powerful GPS for our lives, both business and personal.
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Gut Pheeling System
Suppressing GPS = our Gut Feelings Gut “Ph”eeling System o many of us have a
horrible sick feeling on Sunday night known as “the fear”. This feeling is usually told to “Stay quiet!” through a variety of ways including Alcohol, Mindless TV, Sleeping Pills, etc. When we suppress the message, we are ignoring a powerful brain signal. We must realize this brain has our higher interests at heart, it wants us to be happy, so it is directing us.
Imagine instead we embraced the concept of holistic thinking? Imagine we could master thinking with all three brains. As we discussed with Dr. Srini Pillay, there are many exercises we can employ to achieve this. Mindfulness, for example, is not just a fad, it is a fundamental shift in humanity. In a world where our basic needs are met more than ever before, and we are searching meaning in our lives, mindfulness provides a route to connect with our heart and gut brains. Mindfulness quietens the chatter of our conscious thought and gives our subconscious an opportunity to communicate. 54 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
hris Baréz-Brown tells us we should take note of our state. While it seems very simple, very few of us actually do this. We could take note of when and why we feel great, when we feel bad and when we don’t feel anything at all. In doing so, we can up the dial on what exactly makes us feel great and decrease the other things. By doing this, we can tune in to our gut feelings. Let’s for a moment reframe the times when we feel bad, ill-at-ease or unhappy. What if these feelings served to inform us what “we don’t want.” By knowing what we don’t want, we can focus more on what “we do want.” I think of this as a metal detector for positive feelings/states/ emotions. If we navigate our life using such a GPS (Gut Pheeling System), we can look for more positive states. Imagine now; we did this in our organizations. Yes, this is idealistic. Yes, some people just do not want to do any work at all, but we will find
if people are “playing in the right position,” if they are in roles that play to their strengths, they will be happier and Sunday nights will be a lot different for many of us. “I rely far more on gut instinct than researching huge amounts of statistics.” Richard Branson.
Aidan McCullen Senior Consultant Flow Consulting Group Dublin, Ireland. Retired Rugby International | Keynote Speaker | Innovation Show Host | Senior Consultant. Current focus: Delivering cultural and leadership change in Global organisations. Entrepreneurial Digital and Innovation strategist.Polymath Experience. Set up and host The Innovation Show. Rugby analyst with Setanta Sports and writer with Emerald Rugby. Board member of Irish Internet Association. Syllabus council member with Digital Marketing Institute. Regular Conference Speaker, IAB, Creative Commons, 3XE and Digiday European Summit. Player/Coached Lansdowne Rugby Senior Team up from division 2 through 2 divisions, to Division 1a in 3 years.
Why You Shouldnâ€™t Be
Freelancing (Do This Instead)
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Why You Shouldnt’ be Freelancing
re you unemployed (or think you might become unemployed)? On the other hand, are you selfemployed? As I stated in my last article, “The Uberization of Project Managers: A Survival Guide for Corporate Refugees” – “At least 40% of the U.S. workforce will be moonlighting for more than one company at any given time.” It won’t be long before freelancers make up the majority of the U.S. workforce. So, whether you are involuntarily unemployed or choose to be selfemployed, it’s time to graduate your thinking. You have to transition to an entrepreneurial, ownership mindset. Start seeing yourself as more of an entrepreneur-in-the-making than an employee-for-hire. This will be beneficial even if you decide to pursue full-time employment.
Competition is relentless. You’re not only going up against people in your local area who might have a zillion and one certifications, degrees, and years of hands-on experience. The reality is you’re competing against MBAs and technocrats across the globe. 56 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
Better yet, your competitor traveling and synthesized might be a machine half a them into an action plan. world away. Simply stated, this plan consisted of the step-byHow will you remain step actions I’d take in competitive and make order to achieve my goal. money in this new economy? If you’re Based on this plan, I focused nearly all of my currently freelancing or think you might have to in efforts on reaching out to small and medium-sized the future, these tips will help guide you in the right consulting firms that I direction. could add value to in my local market. Eventually, I caught the attention of The Journey Begins a small, but fast-growing In 2008, I transitioned out consulting firm. of an enterprise account I bet you’re wondering how executive role with a I did this. Fortune 500 telecom company. After taking Well, I honed in on a a months-long travel major pain point. They sabbatical that took me from the halls of Corporate were trying to sell their new marketing consulting America to villages in Third World Countries and solutions to larger companies, but none of beyond, I decided to get serious about working for the owners had experience penetrating large B2B myself. accounts. This was one of my specialties. At the time, the U.S. economy was as bad, Long story short, they or worse, than it was offered me a contract following the Dotcom position with a stipend. bubble bust a few years I agreed to their terms earlier. Landing a decent gig wasn’t easy, especially – with one exception. Instead of contracting with in light of the fact; most them directly, I wanted of the apps people use them to hire me through nowadays didn’t exist. my company. Luckily, I had already incorporated a side This might sound like a business. minor detail, but I assure you, it’s not. With this in mind, I compiled hundreds of You see…it all comes down pages of ideas, notes, and to a mindset. research I’d done while
Why You Shouldnt’ be Freelancing
hen you contract directly with a company (e.g. use your SSN instead of an EIN), you signal to them that you are okay with being treated as an employeefor-hire. If you’re auditioning for a full-time job then that might be fine, but for budding entrepreneurs, that’s a no-no. It’s best if you establish this understanding upfront. Down the road, once you’ve shown your value, it will be easier to take your relationship to the next level.
It inspires you to pick yourself up and figure out what to do with the lemons that were thrown at you. However, if you aren’t careful, the thought will roll over your head like a stream running downhill. The key to success is to capture that inspiration and document it in an action plan. This is how you ultimately turn lemons into lemonade. Here’s a 6-step process to get you started –
Create and Execute Your Action Plan
5) Propose to Them – What Value Will You Offer? (e.g. a unique methodology, industry relationships, proven results)
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“Money flows to those who create the most long-term value. By its very nature, a gig is short-term. This is fine if the gig is part of a larger business strategy, but most of the time it’s not.” Don’t be the dog that barks and chases after every car that drives by. Set yourself up for future success.
3) Locate Them – Where Will You Find Them? (e.g. trade associations, networking, social media) 4) Take Action – How Will You Engage Them? (e.g. cold calls, direct messaging, emails)
“When life knocks you down, try to land on your back. Because if you can look up, you can get up.” That’s a great quote. Really it is.
1) Establish a Goal – What Do Get in the habit of pursuing You Want? (e.g. a job, contract, opportunities that have the teaming partner) potential of helping you grow long-term. This is how you 2) Target Right – Which start building a sustainable Companies Will You business model. Approach? (e.g. consulting firms, SMBs, Fortune 500s)
Sounds easy enough, right? Well, as they say, the devil is in the details.
I once heard motivational speaker Les Brown say –
overcomplicate the planning, you won’t take action.
6) Ask for the Business – How Will You Seal the Deal? (e.g. email, conference call, faceto-face meeting) At the end of the day, keep it S-I-M-P-L-E. If you
Oliver Yarbrough, M.S., PMP® Principle BOBCAT Academy Atlanta, Georgia, US. Oliver is an Author, speaker, trainer, and leading expert in project management, PMP® Exam Prep, and growth strategies to raise competitiveness. You can follow his musings at OliverYarbrough.com His main focus right now is helping project managers and consultants pass the PMP Exam on their first try. In March 2018, the PMP Exam will be changing from the PMBOK 5th to the 6th edition.
How Can ‘Positive Discrimination’ Not Be Negative
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y first experience of ‘positive discrimination’ was as a young adult, flicking through the job classifieds of the local newspaper (yep in the late 1980s/ early 1990s that was the way most young people found jobs) and the feeling of distaste for the local government (the City and County Council as they are called in the UK) for their job advertisements. These openly stated that they favored applications from ethnic minorities and the disabled. Indeed a large proportion of each of their recruitment advertisements was dedicated not to the actual job description or duties of the role, but in detailing all of those minorities that they welcomed applications from. Before you jump on a soapbox to call me out, note the key word here, is favored.
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As a white, apparently English person, of good health and resident in England, the country of my birth, I was at a disadvantage to someone that was not all of the above. Was I the only person to find that inherently wrong on so many levels? I wasn’t, but for the most part, political correctness stopped many from voicing their opinions further. Occasional tabloid stories were printed which demonstrated the inequality of the councils recruitment policy; that white applicants (apparently English people, of good health and resident in England, the country of their birth) were being denied even job interviews, purely on the basis of their ethnicity, despite having superior, relevant experience and/or qualifications. It was easily proved as the tabloid reporters would send in applications from multiple fictitious applicants, manipulated to test the HR departments’ policies in action.
I’m not insensitive.
Of course, I understand that the local government was trying to take the lead in labor integration, amid concern that minorities were not being represented. But of all the right ways and wrong ways of doing things, in my view, any discrimination will lead to further problems down the road. Local government departments are notorious for wasteful implementation of taxpayers money, so as a ‘business’ (which they are, whether they like it or not), they have a duty of doing the best job they can do, for all. Which includes recruiting the best person they can for each job. Regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, or disability. Fast forward thirty years and the recent Weinstein disgrace in the media has had an enormously positive effect in highlighting abuse of women in the workplace, as well as the long-standing issues of gender inequality in a large number of industries. That is fantastic, and anything that brings us to a fairer, more equal workplace, without discriminating anyone, is something that every decent human being will applaud. But let’s also consider positive discrimination. For example; According to a report at The Drum on February 27th, Unilever announced that they were dedicated to increasing the proportion of investment to startups led by female founders by 2023 to 50%.
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Is this just fluffy media PR from a company desperate to say ‘we are gender equal’?
just a hopeless idealist. As a footnote, in the same wee,k news appeared that former YouTube employee Arne Wilberg has sued If you were a gender equal Google for allegedly company, you would pressuring recruiters already be awarding to only look for female, investments purely on the black, Hispanic or Latino basis of their merit as a applicants. The suit, filed business investment, and in January 2018, cites that this would have nothing to Google implemented ‘clear do with the fact of whether and irrefutable policies’ the leading founder was which were meant to male or female. exclude white and Asian male applicants in an The very suggestion that attempt to increase the female entrepreneurs need company’s overall ethnic some kind of ‘favor’ to diversity. Wilberg claims get investment in itself is that his eventual dismissal degrading and suggestive in November 2017 was for that female founders are opposing the policy. inferior in some shape or form. Are we going back in In responding, Google told time thirty years? The Wall Street Journal ‘we have a clear policy to hire Your numbers should candidates based on their be doing the talking. merit, not their identity… Successful investments At the same time, we in businesses ran by unapologetically try to find successful entrepreneurs. a diverse pool of qualified Their gender is irrelevant candidates for open roles. and in no way should it As this helps us to hire the ever define them or the best people, improve our basis of any investment in culture, and build better them. products.’ Just as we should always employ the best person for the job, it is common sense that the businesses that should receive a purely commercial investment are those that have the most potential for success. Now for me, that is progress in discrimination. Maybe I am
Dean O’Grady Managing Editor Sqwawqs.com
Impact of Big Data on the World in 2018 61 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
Big Data In 2018
ig Data is the next big thing in the tech world as of today with organizations around the world rushing to invest in various technologies that deal with Big Data. It means, 2018 holds a lot of promise regarding emerging trends in this fantastic new domain. Big data has generated and is continuing to create a lot of buzz in not only the technology field but across the globe. It promises significant interventions, big changes, innovations, and integration with and within our routine lives.
developing ways of applying this information to improve business prospects. Here we discus some positive impacts of applying Big Data Insights, which are going to transform the world we live in. Not all the suggested changes will be immediate, some might occur in the immediate future, while others might be gradual, and some might be affecting our current lives. Security Applications for Big Data developed, which helps identify people on the way they walk, based on their movement. What is assuring is that this application is so far in the testing phase and is a 100% accurate. Facial recognition is another feature of Big data, which is becoming better at processing. The capabilities of the machine to pick up our unique elements like speech, movements, tonality and marry it with security features is possible, and we might very well enter a phase where fraud with signatures could end.
Healthcare, there is a possibility that shortly all patient history can store on a consolidated mainframe. The advantage is that not only any doctor can identify a Industries over verticals unique entry, but on putting are researching methods to some symptoms, your doctor create advanced methods of will be able to see every analyzing and decoding the patient in the world who has data, to accurately understand experienced those symptoms, what it is saying, and are and their response to 62 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
treatments. Imagine the benefit it will present concerning early detection of a disease and its prevention. The medical fraternity is aware of the benefits of Big Data and is ensuring they hop on the bus. Decoding the Consumer, with the emergence of e-commerce websites, and the onset of all devices connected to the internet, which catch consumer patterns, possibilities in understanding the consumer and their behavioral patterns is on the rise. Companies understand the value in accurately predicting and influencing consumer behavior, as it could turn the profit tables upwards. Over a period companies will be able to recognize not only a group of people based on demographics, but also unique patterns, and will then be able to not only cater to a crowd but to customizing individual products, such information can also use in other areas. From Urban planning to present you with the piece of news you would like to read in the morning, Big Data, its impact and its effect can be felt around us. While it could be cool to think and mull over this intervention as an invasion to our privacy, the other bright side to the coin is to consider how the collection and analysis of data can make our lives simpler.
Big Data In 2018
Given below are a few such revolutionary trends that will begin.
Spark and Machine Learning brighten up Big Data
Apache Spark was once known to be a well-known element of the Hadoop ecosystem and is currently taking on the role of a Big Data platform for various Businesses. BI Analysts , Data Architects, and IT Managers were part of a survey which arose with the discovery that almost 70% of the participants preferred Spark over the alternative of MapReduce. MapReduce is batch-oriented and does not gel with interactive applications, or even real-time stream processing. Computation intensive Machine Learning, AI, and Graph Algorithms are all being used to better harness Big Data potential in critical areas such as Healthcare. Smart systems and the aid of Machine Learning says the market will focus on self-service software providers to transform the data into a form that is consumable by the end user.
Convergence of Cloud, IoT, and Big Data will generate new opportunities for Self-Service Analytics
It predicted that everything in the upcoming few months would come equipped with a sensor which will eventually feed data lakes, in turn joining the global pool of universal data. It is the main concept behind the use of cloud and the IoT, with IoT generating huge volumes of structured and unstructured data and a significant portion of such data
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being used by Cloud services. The data referred to here is not similar and exists in various systems, both relational and non-relational. It can range from NoSQL databases to Hadoop clusters. The way data stored and managed has improved with a great many innovations speeding the process used to capture the data. The accessing and comprehension of data itself is a bit of a challenge presently with a lot of people working round the clock to make even a little headway. This is why the demand for analytical tools is growing, specially for ones that can faultlessly connect to and integrate a large variety of cloud-hosted data services. Such tools will help businesses in taping into all hidden opportunities of IoT investments.
Hadoop will add to enterprise standards
One of the most important trends of Big Data is Hadoop becoming a core part of the enterprise IT landscape. The year 2018 will see a greater volume of investments in governance and security aspects dealing with enterprise systems. Users are beginning to suppose various kinds of capabilities from enterprise level RDBMS platforms. Such skills have brought to the focus of the latest Big Data tech, which removes a significant barrier to enterprise adoption.
Big Data In 2018
Growth of metadata catalogs will benefit users find analysis worthy Big Data
Enterprises have a long time to dispose of data just because there was too much of it to process. Metadata catalogs can help people in determining and understanding relevant data worth analyzing utilizing self-service tools. This missing link in customer needs to be filled by enterprises such as Informatica, Waterline, and, Alation which use Machine Learning for the automation of the work of locating data in Hadoop. The catalog files are using tags, revealing relationships between various data assets, and even offer query suggestions through searchable UIs. This helps both data consumers, and data stewards minimize the time taken to trust, locate, and precisely check the data. In the coming year 2018, we will see further awareness and demand for Self-Service discovery. It, in turn, will grow as a natural arm of Self-Service Analytics.
Self-service data preparation will become mainstream as end users begin to shape Big Data
Hadoop data should be simply accessible for business users and poses a considerable challenge to enterprises worldwide. Where SelfService Analytics platforms play an essential role in facing the arisen challenge. Now, Business users are mainly focusing on minimizing the time and difficulty involved in data preparation engaged in Data Analysis.It is even more significant when handling a diversity of data formats and types. 64 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
Hadoop data can be prepared right at the source using agile, self-service data prep tools along with making the data available for snapshots for accelerated exploration which done in a much easier way. Enterprises in this space have stressed on enduser data preparation for Big Data such as Trifecta, Alteryx, and Paxata. It means late Hadoop adopters have a lot to gain from this, with the entry barriers reduced significantly. Getting Big data Certification makes a great impact in your future as a demand of big data will grow in 2018.
Palak Mazumdar Director - Big Data & Data Science & Department Head. IBM Bengaluru, Karnataka, India An experienced business leader with 12 years of cross-functional experience specializing in elevating operations and integrating technology to deliver the business results essential to controlling costs, supporting growth and improving operational integrity. Knowledge and practical know-how that brings together strong business acumen, technical proficiency, and financial discipline. Broad experience across multiple industries including communications, media, publishing, entertainment, software, technology, financial services, and energy. A proven track record of quickly adapting to diverse challenges and rapid change, while effectively leading strategic and tactical actions. Deep skills and capabilities for directing and motivating blended project teams across most business processes and functions.
HQ2 Strategy is Genius. Here’s Why 65 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
Amazon’s HQ2 Strategy
mazon is constantly in the news, but today, the most anticipated move in Amazon’s history seems to be the announcement of its second headquarters, HQ2. Cities throughout the US (and one in Canada) have been publicly and privately bidding for Amazon’s new headquarters for quite some time now. Amazon expects to bring over 50,000 jobs to its second headquarters, which will significantly change and transform the economy of any city on this list. Bezos and Amazon played this very well. The company strategically made this announcement public news to grab attention and have cities come to them. Over 200 cities made a pitch to Amazon for HQ2. Amazon certainly listened to every offer, but they strategically waited months before publicly narrowing down the list.
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The anticipation continued to increase. Cities were frantically improving their offers on a daily basis, hoping Amazon would choose to relocate to their city. Now, it’s transforming into a secret process. Amazon narrowed down the list to 20 cities. Among them are Miami, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Austin, Newark, Raleigh, and many others. CNBC reported today that Amazon “has insisted cities shift to a confidential pitch mode” as negotiations move forward. It is intriguing how Amazon is using a different tactic now. The publicity of HQ2 made cities battle against each other publicly and improve their offers, one after another. It was a genius strategic move. Cities continued to sweeten their offers for Amazon’s new headquarters in hopes of spurring great economic growth throughout their city and their state. From now on, pitches and negotiations will occur behind closed doors.
Amazon’s HQ2 Strategy
Amazon knows exactly what it is doing. The company hardly had to pitch to cities in the first round. “Amazon” was a buzz-word that made cities jump out of their seats, especially when they heard the phrase “50,000 highpaying jobs.” Now, cities are wondering how much they could possibly afford to offer Amazon in terms of incentives. New Jersey offered $7 billion worth of incentives, while Maryland offered nearly $5 billion. It may be time for Amazon to pitch to these 20 cities. If Amazon sits down with the mayor of each of these 20 cities on the shortlist, the company could go into great detail regarding the colossal economic impact of their new headquarters.
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Even though it seems like Amazon is pitching, these 20 cities are still at the mercy of this company. Amazon will certainly give them an offer they can’t refuse, and the company will most likely have a small cost of doing so. This reminds me of the Whole Foods deal: Amazon purchased Whole Foods for $13.7 billion and Amazon’s market value increased by $16 billion that day. They basically picked up Whole Foods for free. I think a similar scenario will occur here. Amazon is looking for the best deal and the lowest cost. It is right in line with its business model: finding the best value for the lowest price.
Frank V. Martone Entrepreneur New York, US. Entrepreneur, reader, writer, current MBA candidate, and future attorney. Highly interested in entrepreneurship, startups, tech, real estate, investing, business law and litigation.
TAKING A DIVE INTO AMAZONâ€™S 2017 METRICS 68 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
Taking a Dive into Amazon’s 2017 Metrics
mazon wowed analysts and investors last week with a dramatic earnings beat on the back of remarkable fourthquarter sales growth of 38%. Amazon provides updates on sales in specific international markets only when it reports its full-year results, as it did last week, so the most recently announced yearly figures give us a chance to review how the company is growing by region. The US accounts for twothirds of Amazon’s net sales, Germany just under 10%, the UK 6% and Japan nearly 7%. So, the company’s nonUS operations are minor but meaningful. As we chart below, Amazon’s very strong performance in the US in 2017 was complemented by strong growth in the UK. The company’s growth also substantially outpaced that of the total online market in both countries. In the US, total online retail sales grew by just over 16% in 2017, we estimate, based on US Census Bureau data. Amazon grew its total US sales by about double rate that last year— although the company’s figures include services such as cloud computing (which would not be included within retail sales) and reflect a sales boost of some $6 billion from the acquisition of (predominantly offline) Whole Foods Market. 69 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
In the UK, total Internet retail sales grew by 17.7% in 2017, according to our analysis of data from the UK’s Office for National Statistics. Amazon comfortably outpaced that growth rate, too. The revenue booked by Amazon does not directly reflect total sales through the site, because third-party sellers account for much of what is sold on Amazon. As it does each quarter, Amazon stated in its most recent announcement the proportion of total unit sales that were made by third-party sellers. In the fourth quarter, this figure showed a small sequential uplift, to 51%, but third parties’ contributions to sales have shown a plateauing trend since the second half of 2016. Lastly, a note on Prime: Amazon said that it shipped more than 5 billion items worldwide with Prime in 2017 and that more new members joined Prime last year than in any previous year, both in the US and worldwide. The company also launched Prime in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Singapore in 2017. Prime in India expanded to include 25 million products from third-party sellers. Prime drives sales at Amazon—that is clear. In particular, Prime encourages members to shop on the site for nontraditional Amazon categories such as apparel and groceries. So, a bumper year for Prime membership in 2017 suggests that Amazon will see sustained sales momentum into 2018.
FGRT covers Amazon frequently and in depth. Our upcoming reports include a deep-dive analysis of our Amazon apparel consumer survey findings, a review of Amazon’s US patents, and an exclusive item-level analysis of Amazon’s product and brand offering in clothing.
Deborah Weinswig Global Analyst Specializing in New Retail | Retail Innovation | Technology | Retail Real Estate | Fashion Coresight Research New York, US. I have spent my career analyzing the intersection of retail and technology in order to foresee the future of global retail. This has led to my current role as CEO & Founder for Coresight Research. Our team is based in New York, London, and China. We analyze disruptions altering the new retail ecosystem, impacted by technology, real estate, and fashion, industries I have learned well well as an award-winning retail and retail tech analyst. As a member of several boards of international businesses, and an advisor to numerous startups and accelerators, I travel the world to present to and advise global audiences and brands on the changes that will fundamentally transform their businesses.
70 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
-Commerce was originally created to allow consumers to buy products online without having to go to a physical store. On the seller side, this movement implied cost savings by not having a physical store, as well as the ability to sell their products to a broader audience with world-wide shipping. Retail e-commerce sales reached 1.86 trillion USD in 2016, and are projected to grow to 4.48 trillion by 2021 – a compound annual growth rate of 18.8%. However, in 2021 e-commerce as we know it, along with the multichannel model, will be dead. The reasons are changes in consumer behavior, information (access to data), and the power of automation, especially machine learning: Consumer behavior and preferences have fundamentally changed. Today’s consumers have very high standards as they are much more conscious about product performance, sustainability, and quality. Local smaller players are arising who offer innovative, premium and personalized products, competing with the traditional retail – and mostly standard – products from the big players in the market. Furthermore, shoppers now have more access to information than ever and are using it extensively in their decisionmaking process.
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A-Commerce the Omnichannel (R)evolution
Consumers demand products as personalized and as fast as possible. And: a great shopping and consumer experience are most important to them. Typically, they are facing several issues and questions while shopping: Where to get the best deal? Where to get coupons and promotions from? Which of the various marketplaces offer the cheapest product with free shipping? How to avoid going through all sorts of sources and providers in order to find the best quality? How to ensure that a certain product does not have any allergic components or does not come from an untrusted source? What are the reviews, and how is this product rated by other customers? How trustworthy is the supplier? Will the product arrive by the time it will be needed? All this is exhausting for the customers, and if these questions are not answered satisfactorily and immediately, they might be reluctant to buy. Therefore, the ability to 1) understand the consumer problems, and 2) automate the use of information (data) in order to generate insights will be the key to surviving in this competitive, real-time environment. But how?
A-Commerce the Omnichannel (R)evolution Welcome to the era of a-Commerce (automated Commerce)! In the future, machines will predict any kind of consumer product demand and – ring in the era of a-commerce! Here are some examples:
Recent technological innovations have helped e-commerce to evolve. Be it by means of automation through machines and devices, as we see them in manufacturing on the shop floor or in warehouses, or by bringing the shopping experience on the go with smartphones and tablets. The number of connected devices has been exponentially increasing every year – on both the user and the manufacturing side.
Fast-moving products For daily-use products, such as food or personal care, smart objects (devices, machines) and sensors will scan and manage your fridge and cabinet. They will detect products you might run out of soon and make decisions on where to buy which product. Maybe there is a new brand or a new variation on the market, or you are allergic to an ingredient or component? Machines will handle it. They will also decide where and when the delivery will take place, because – of course – they know your schedule and the most convenient locations. Most importantly, the machines will run simulations on prices and delivery times among all available suppliers in order to get you the best deal, regardless whether it is a combo purchase at one single online store, or by placing multiple orders through many suppliers.
Clothing and wearables
Smart objects will be all around. For example, they will track changes in your body. So, let’s say you have lost weight or gained muscles. And maybe the weather Today, with Machine Learning and Artificial in your city will shift in the coming weeks. Intelligence, e-commerce is shifting to a Your automated shopping assistant will new paradigm. Consumers want shopping then scan through your closet looking to be pleasant, fast and hassle-free, so for pieces of clothes you have, and match delegating decisions to machines that solve them with the colors you like and the latest their shopping problems makes their lives fashion trends in order to get you new, much easier. perfectly fitting clothes, shipped without you even having to think about it. 72 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
A-Commerce the Omnichannel (R)evolution
Too futuristic? Not at all Your future desires Or, even further, it will be technically possible to predict what you will happen to like, what you will happen to want or desire based on your personal interests, believes and likes following your fingerprint in social media. A cross-check with your bank account and your shopping behavior will also play a role in the automated decision-making process. Finally, you will be positively surprised by receiving products you did not order (yet), or you werenâ€™t even aware of.
Stores Stores will be highly automated. You will be surrounded by all sorts of interactive devices in order to heighten the shopping experience, all linked real-time to your social life/profile and virtual wardrobe. As a consequence - with all the customer information in hand - stores will achieve massive inventory reductions with the ability to predict the demand or drive it by creating personalized, relevant promotions. When leaving the store, no checkout is necessary anymore at the cashier as payments will be triggered automatically in the background. Purchases will be delivered directly to your home awaiting you upon return from your shopping trip.
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For some, this all might sound a little too futuristic or infeasible in the near future. However, it is closer to reality than we think. Many industry players are already making progress at a very fast pace and are at the vanguard of setting trends for the future of commerce. All of the scenarios described here are either already being put into practice or piloted and prototyped in so-called future labs. Organizations that want to be ahead of the competition in the era of a-Commerce need to address some very important questions and topics: Positioning the brand in the era of omnichannel and machine-to-machine business How can you build balanced brand positioning among channels (online/offline)? How should you build the perfect go-to-market strategy when interacting with humans and machines?
IT budget into Marketing In the age of the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR) and digitalization, the biggest asset is information. In order to keep up with trends and survive in this environment, companies are advised to allocate enough budget to IT as part of the corporate marketing strategy.
A-Commerce the Omnichannel (R)evolution
Being DemandDriven 08:00 AM
How ready are manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to manage and handle demand in real time and to promptly respond to changing market needs? Inspiring thoughts on that can be found at: A.I. Empowered Demand Planning by Nils Winkler and Demand-Driven SCM for CPG by Peter Harder.
000 000 000 000 00 CARDS
Speed to market and logistics network How much time do suppliers and distributors need to react to constantly changing demand and respond to the consumer at the proper speed? How can we combine other disruptive technologies, such as Blockchain and IoT to address logistics-related issues?
Real-time insights Effective data-driven marketing strategies A connected world needs a large amount of transactional data every second. What is your ability to be connected in this environment, to manage the data and to generate insights for your business? 74 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
AndrĂŠ Garcia Ferreira Pinto Consulting | Consumer Goods | Digital Transformation | Value Chain Management CAMELOT Management Consultants Frankfurt Am Main, Germany. Over nine years of professional experience, mostly providing management-consulting services in Value Chain Management and Strategy for several relevant multinationals, mostly in the Consumer Goods industry. As an internationalist, is fascinated in understanding the consumer behavior across cultures and markets while scouting for trends and innovations in the digital era.
Successful Ecommerce Businesses in MENA â€“
a fairy tale?
75 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
Successful Ecommerce Businesses in MENA
are all rushing in setting up their online shops, often with little success as they have no experience on how to do this. I am regularly asked by people how to run a successful e-commerce business in the MENA region. It’s clear but at the same time very complicated. The clear part lies in the bare essentials you need (no, a good looking website is not enough!), the complicated part (in MENA) manifests itself in the execution, operation of the business, and last but not least, achieving profitability. Let’s turn to the essential ingredients for a successful e-commerce business first: Products, Technology, Marketing and Customer Experience.
The future of retail is shaped by a powerful consumer who has thousands of choices at his fingertips and high expectations when it comes to product offering and customer service. Traditional retailer can often not answer fast-changing consumer expectations – brick and mortar retail is dying, online commerce is booming. We can observe this everywhere in the world. In the US and Asia, the successful shopping malls of the 70ies and 80ies are closing down one by one. In Europe, city centers 76 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
become wastelands as shops disappear. New concepts that combine shopping with lifestyle experience surrounded by restaurant and cafes are implemented. In the MENA region it is no different – traditional retail businesses are struggling to survive and looking for new concepts to attract shoppers. On the other side stand the online retailers that see strong year on year revenue growth. Traditional retailers understand that an online presence is a must have and
Products. It all starts here. If you don’t have the right products, you will not succeed. A right product answers a demand from the market AND gives you sufficient margin to operate. To be clear, it’s great to have a product that is in high demand, but if it does not give you sufficient profit margin, don’t take it on or ensure that you have other products that create the right mix to operate a profitable business.
Successful Ecommerce Businesses in MENA
In fact, it is one of the biggest challenges of the business to get the product mix right. There are many parameters that need to be considered, especially in the MENA region. The simple comparison between retail price and purchase price of an item is not enough. Size and weight of the item are important dimensions of the equation. They define your delivery costs that can be very meaningful in the region. Expected return rates are another important aspect to look at. Fashion items, for example, have a much higher return rate than cosmetic or kitchen articles. The same goes for low vs. high quality products obviously. Returns are expensive. Apart from return costs, products that come back to you have to be checked in the warehouse to decide if they are in resalable condition or not. They often have to be repacked. A returned product might represent a complete loss. In my view, a business with less than 30% gross profit margin (product, delivery and logistic costs included) cannot be profitable in MENA. Exception from the rule â€“ you can scale your business beyond USD 500m in revenues (and the profit margin is the sufficient to cover your fixed costs).
Technology. You need to present your products on good platforms. This is not only a desktop website! Ensure that the site is mobile optimized. 70% of your traffic will come from mobile or tablets. A good mobile app is a great advantage as it gives you effective marketing tools on hand (ex: push notifications). Implement a business intelligence (BI) tool into your software infrastructure. BI will give you insight into key areas essential for any e-commerce business: inventory management, pricing strategy, cost strategy analysis, campaign analysis, buying patterns of costumers and sales & margin performance of different products. Even a small business 77 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
will benefit from having additional insight into their data. There is endless data in an e-commerce business. So collect as much as you can to optimize your business and your customerâ€™s experience. There are multiple BI tools out there. To choose the BI tool that is right for you, consider your target audience, your existing systems and classify the features and functions you consider as must-haves vs. nice-to-have. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in e-commerce is growing rapidly. Many e-commerce businesses already use forms of AI to better understand their customers, generate new leads and provide an enhanced customer experience. AI in e-commerce is a topic for itself and will go beyond the scope of this article. I will soon post an article that describes how AI helps boosting sales for e-commerce businesses.
Marketing. Budgets for marketing are usually huge in the e-commerce world and represent a substantial cost factor in the PL. It is important to be smart in the way that marketing is done. It is easy to spend hundreds of thousands of Dollars. A smart way, especially in MENA, is to involve influencers. The largest market for any relevant e-commerce company in the region is Saudi Arabia (KSA). There are key influencers such as Manal Alalem, Joelle Mardinian, Noha Nabil and others that you need to get on board. In KSA, the top 10 female influencers all have significant following in the millions. Influencers are not cheap to work with, but they will reach your target audience directly and have a powerful impact. And there are always creative ways to work with influencers apart from paying them in cash.
Successful Ecommerce Businesses in MENA
Why is social media so big in MENA? It’s mainly due to the fact that 50% of the MENA population is below the age of 30, in KSA it is even 67% of the population. These millennials have a huge appetite for social media consumption. KSA has the highest per capita video (Youtube) consumption in the world. So be aware of this when planning your marketing campaigns.
Customer experience. There is no rocket science to this – a happy customer is a must for any successful business. But how to achieve this? It all starts with transparency: no hidden costs, clear product descriptions, and high-quality product images are key for a great customer journey. Smooth checkout process, order tracking, and quick delivery comes next. Note that in MENA, there is a clear correlation between the delivery time of an order and a customer’s willingness to accept the product. Remember that 90% of the business in MENA is conducted via cash on delivery (COD). If you don’t deliver fast (i.e., within two days max in city areas and four days max in rural areas) then you have a high chance that the customer will not respond to a courier call, you will not deliver the order, and you will have an unhappy customer that will not order again. Inventory management plays a key part in your ability to deliver fast (or deliver at all). It is one of the main pain points of every e-commerce business. It needs your utmost attention from the start of your business as it not only effects your customer satisfaction and sales, but also your cash flow! You might end up with huge piles of unsold stock that you have paid for and that you cannot return to your suppliers. If you fail in effective inventory management, you will fail with your whole business. 78 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
Handling of questions, complaints, and returns is the final step in the customer journey. Make it easy for the customer to return a product. In today’s competitive environment you have no choice than to apply a “no questions asked” return policy. Ensure to calculate those costs into your business plan. We have now discussed the essential ingredients (the “clear part”) of an e-commerce business and highlighted some specific characteristics of the MENA region. The complicated part is to put all of this together and make it work. In order to mix the above ingredients together in the right way, you will need experienced staff and/ or consultants. Even if you are a small e-commerce business, it will help you tremendously to get someone aboard (even if just on a project basis) to review what you are currently doing. The least that every player in the market needs to do is to run an internal update on where the company stands in respect the above essentials. Many aspects of the business can be improved without involving much cash. Standard BI tools, for example, are most likely already part of the e-commerce solution that you are using. Customer experience can be improved by working very closely with your courier company and following up on every delivery they do. The final question is, how to achieve profitability? I will give you an honest answer – it is extremely challenging to run a profitable e-commerce operation in MENA. In my view, it is only possible in two cases: (1) as a general e-commerce player if you planned your operations very carefully and in detail, if you have the right experts on board and (!) if you have deep pockets, or (2) as a niche player if you sell high margin products to a very specific audience.
tarting out as a general e-commerce player selling all sorts of consumer goods without having strong financial backing will definitely lead to bankruptcy. Not good news, but true. Ten years ago when there was much less competition, and customers were not price sensitive, it was possible to succeed as a player targeting the mass without deep pockets as your margins were very high. Nowadays with players such as Souq (i.e. Amazon), noon.com, namshi (focusing on apparel) and citrussTV, that is not the case anymore. You will need time and occur substantial losses until you have reached a critical revenue level that allows you to cover your fixed costs with a lower (than 30%) gross margin. A major challenge for any e-commerce player in MENA is that the region is very fragmented and there is no working address system. Every country has different customs procedures and requires specific product documentation for importation of products. Managing courier companies to ensure they achieve satisfactory delivery success rates is time-consuming and frustrating. Courier charges are high. So an e-commerce player will have to subsidize delivery costs. In addition, 90% of the business is based on cash on delivery (COD) which attracts a further cost and makes it harder to achieve high delivery success rates which leads consequently to higher return rates and costs. What could change the situation? There are positive initiatives such as Dubai CommerCity dedicated to the fast-growing e-commerce industry to attract foreign direct investment. This is a great initiative but will 79 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
Successful Ecommerce Businesses in MENA not solve much of the above challenges that an e-commerce company in the region is facing today. A necessary step forward would be to achieve a unified market among the Gulf Countries (GCC) with common import rules and no customs barriers. Goods must be able to move freely within the GCC. This would give a huge boost to the e-commerce industry and invite many more players to the table. Some of the (region specific) challenges on the other hand form a strong barrier to entry for competitors. If your business gets the above essential ingredients right AND manages the challenges well, then the market can be very lucrative! In MENA you are looking at 300 million people that want to be served. The fairy tale of a profitable e-commerce business in the region could become a reality.
Michael TrĂźschler Managing Partner TruConsult United Arab Emirates Michael is an entrepreneur and e-commerce guru, and an expert on setting up & growing businesses in the GCC. He is the co-founder of the one of the most instantly recognizable brands in the Arab World, the Middle Eastâ€™s home shopping channel citrussTV. He successfully exited the company in 2017 to Chinese investors. Originally from Germany, Michael is an active investor, both in Europe and the MENA region. He acts as a mentor to start-ups, provides financial and operational consultancy and advises on e-commerce and technology projects. Michael has been featured in numerous magazine and newspaper features analyzing the phenomenon of citrussTV and the dizzying rise of e-commerce in the region.
Attitudes to E-Commerce need to change 80 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
Attitudes to E-Commerce need to change
Irish consumers spent €3bn out of €5bn with online retailers overseas in 2017. www.siliconrepublic.com Amazon Echo is a Trojan horse that threatens traditional retailers Two articles from recent news here in Ireland. The first is not new, this has been happening for at least five years, and the rate of increase has not dramatically increased. The second is a nice soundbyte, but dips into where e-commerce is headed. Some things have not changed: · The perception of e-commerce is a mess – it has to change. It has to be simplified, and it needs to be understood. · We have an enormous skills deficit in e-commerce. · eCommerce growth rates of triple-digit growth are not achievable in the most. · Investment in broadband has a perception of holding business back. This is a bit of a crutch, in most regional towns, there is enough bandwidth and speed to start · We have done very little to utilize marketplaces for learning how to trade online. · Many companies feel they do not know still what their agency partners do. 81 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
If we want to increase adoption of e-commerce we need to understand, quickly, where e-commerce fits in the overall scheme of business today. Let me say this only once, e-commerce is not just shopping on Amazon; it’s foundations underpin all aspects of modern business – not some, all.
Systems-Processes-PeopleInvestment-Customers A series of processes and systems to sell a good or service. That is how simple it is at its raw level. The key is connecting those dots in a cohesive way. Up to now, most businesses do not. Example, you have a great young “digital marketer” running AdWords, getting some successes but ultimately does not understand margin. Four months of great spend, CTR, and conversion (sorry for buzzwords, but I am painting a picture here). Then the GM or marketing manager realizes, they are down 4% margin, and the exec doesn’t know what to do, only curtail spend. Rather than look at things like the cost of acquiring that customer, the number of new customers reached, pricing and cost, etc.
Attitudes to E-Commerce need to change
hile this is a crude example, it is one of the days to day discussions that disillusions people on all sides and leads to apathy and contributes to the “meh” investment in time and understanding in e-commerce. Let’s start banning the word e-commerce and let’s refer to the transition as transformation or re-purposing and for the sake of gaining more buy-in, let’s just call this doing business, buying and selling. There are a few core activities in e-commerce that drive sales – I did not say scale. Simply, sales: · Paid Advertising · Useful and relevant content · eMail marketing · Understanding how your business is shaped up to deliver it’s perceived growth – strategy Our team is set up specifically to deal with those areas in a cohesive fashion. Next steps are simple; we tell you what we are going to do, when and how. We demand that you are on board to learn the how, what and why of what we do. Then we measure the effect, tweak and go again. We combine and wrap this in overall strategic positioning to give your business the best chance of investing with certainty and with one eye always on what is coming 82 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
down the road. The way we are interacting with the internet is converging with our day to day lives at home, though we know that is being denied, but with very little vigor. It is clear that over the next three years how we transact online will be drastically different in many categories. But is changing quicker than we can imagine. So for all those still on the fence, we are just saying get involved. Don’t sit in the dark, not asking the easy questions. Contact us today.
Vinny O’Brien Consultant * Owner * Mentor * Lecturer * eCommerce Expert * Strategic Leader * Transformation & Process Specialist Thermo Tents Ltd, Dublin, Ireland. I help companies design and execute their global e-commerce omnichannel strategies. My experience is growing businesses operationally and functionally to deliver sustainable growth as part of overall e-commerce strategies. I have worked in various verticals including, automotive, fashion, hard goods & home. I have a strong operational focus with a view to always build with scale and sustainability. I am a strong networker and try to make meaningful connections, and I try to facilitate new relationships for people within my network where I believe business can be done.
The PeriLs of Connectivity
and Sharing 83 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
The Perils of Connectivity and Sharing
omputing built its last few decades of triumph on connection. Ever increasing speeds, both in the computers and on the networks, have brought us a world of seemingly instant information and transactions. Those features may now be liabilities. In the wake of Meltdown and Spectre, Zeynep Tufekci wrote:
There are better ways to make systems more secure. For example, you can build more isolation and separation into our systems, moving security functions to properly audited hardware and away from software (which is always more vulnerable). Things cannot be hacked if they cannot be reached. This may mean that we have to sacrifice some speed for security.
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The Perils of Connectivity and Sharing
At first, this sounds like a giant step backwards. Disconnection? Delay? Really?
hose connections and drive for speed have enabled technical and social transformations, but they have also exposed some of the problems with the way we've mixed things up from almost the beginning of computing. While Meltdown and Spectre may feel like the worst case scenario, buried deep inside millions of chips, the story they tell reveals many broader problems as well.
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We have a range of solutions to these problems. The softer ones offer approaches and architectures for creating more resilient code in an environment that still looks familiar. The harder ones - the ones we'll need if our deeply connected Web and Internet world spreads too much damage - demand that we re-evaluate the ways we share and consume code. (The hardest solution, of course, is to drop computing from our civilization completely. I don't yet think we have to go there.)
The Roots of the Problem The earliest computers, mechanical and analog devices, were generally built to do one or a few things well. Inputs created changes in well-defined pathways or circuits, which produced results. Some of these devices allowed changes to their internal configuration or circuits, but they were definitely not general-purpose computers. Digital computers, by contrast, can do many things, often at the same time. As digital computers became more common, our programming style evolved to fit what they did well. We modified that to some extent, by what seemed cost-effective, fast, or flexible. The quest for cheap flexibility brought designs that stored programs in the same locations as data, modifying those programs using the same mechanisms we use to
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The Perils of Connectivity and Sharing
modify data. Perhaps the original sin of the computing world appeared in Section 2.5 of First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC (1945): The device requires a considerable memory. While it appeared that various parts of this memory have to perform functions which differ somewhat in their nature and considerably in their purpose, it is nevertheless tempting to treat the entire memory as one organ, and to have its parts even as interchangeable as possible for the various functions enumerated above. Seventy-three years later, that temptation still defines how most computer-based devices work. There are exceptions programs permanently stored in ROM, or firmware that requires separate storage - but not very many.
hat foundation choice has brought us an everexpanding plague of viruses, malware, and crackable paths to valuable data. Yes, over the last few decades, hardware designers and programmers have tried to control access to information within computers. We set levels of access. We enforce them where possible in (mostly) unchangeable hardware, or at least with encryption and various authentication models. Because those fail, we write more software that constantly audits our computers for danger. That software, of course, needs its own access to everything, creating new opportunities for trouble. We've tried to control network access with filters and firewalls, and again, authentication schemes. Hiding another computer running its own insecure operating system inside of microprocessors to manage them is yet another sign of excessive complexity.
The Perils of Connectivity and Sharing
Native applications, alas, are not a lot better. We do tend to be slightly more cautious because they aren't in much of a sandbox. There's more ceremony - a download and installer, a package manager, or an app store - to installing a native app. Most app stores review code, though it's not clear to what depth. Often there are digital signatures identifying sources. Sometimes Unfortunately, we are better at the operating system reminds you sprawling than containing. We that you just downloaded this, and keep finding ways to exploit tools asks if you know where it came that once seemed safe, and leave from. Afterwards, you hope your mistakes in our systems because antivirus software will protect you fixing them is hard. if something goes wrong. We try to constrain our software tangle When the Web first appeared, with permissions, confusing network administrators were mostly ourselves and our code. Managing happy to connect their systems. It permissions sounds easy until you seemed safe because Web pages actually do it, and becomes ever were just data, and all of the logic more intricate as you attempt to involved lived on other people's maintain it. servers. Port 80, the default port for the Web's HTTP protocol, became
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The Perils of Connectivity and Sharing
Approaches that have been around for a while There are lots of ideas for solving our code problems. Mathematically (or otherwise) auditable code is one option. Let computers find the gaps in our code, and then we can fix or avoid them, and all will be well. Unfortunately, writing machineauditable code creates its own challenges. It has not taken the world by storm. Human audits also have their limits, as tiny details of sequence and syntax can open gaps. We can evolve code in response to attacks, but that involves extended exposure of information that might draw attacks, and often results in heavily-patched code with its own new maintenance problems. I first got a sense that there might be a better way to do things from a work encounter with the qmail mail transfer agent. I was familiar with the sprawling sendmail server, but qmail felt very different. It divided up the work differently, supported a smaller (but still very capable) range of data flows, and very bluntly made security a priority. It felt strangely magical. I couldn't explain why, though, until its creator, Dan Bernstein, wrote a piece on the first decade of qmail. What made it work? Eliminating bugs - not surprising!
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Reducing the amount of code. Reducing the amount of trusted code that needed special permissions to operate. Cleaner code and less of it, with minimal privileges, sounds good. Bernstein also identified things he considered distractions: Fending off attackers. Fiddling with privileges. Chasing speed. All of these make it harder to focus on creating secure software in the first place. (Here's a more recent commentary reflecting on this, and questioning some of it.) Inching a little closer toward the architectural conversation, this tweet from Joe Armstrong, one of the creators of Erlang. Its conclusion, “Isolation is the single most important property that a system must have,” reminded me of endless past conference talks about the risks of shared memory models. Despite those risks, we remain eager to share memory. It’s fast, right? And with some kind of (shared) locking mechanism we can keep things from changing unexpectedly... except that often, we can’t. We gain performance at the risk of exposing or corrupting our data.
rlang (and Elixir, and others, often calling it the Actor model) don't share memory. Instead, they pass messages among lightweight processes to minimize sharing. Sending messages from place to place, duplicating them when necessary, avoids sharing surprises that often turn into security risks. This approach also expects that some of those processes can fail and be replaced. It's easier than striving to keep them alive at all cost against attackers. Other models promise similar separation between program code and data. Classic flow-based programming structures programs as data pathways among separate processes. More recently, "serverless" models put minimal functions at networkreachable endpoints. Data flows to and from those functions with minimal overhead. Even if something does break in, there shouldn't be very much it can do. Those systems, however, still run on standard general purpose hardware. They may not be completely immune to these issues. Unfortunately, most of our code was not built using qmail's priorities, Erlang architectures, or compartmentalized function endpoints. The rise of serverless models is promising, but their clients are still typically tangles that distribute risks to their users. I don't see this changing anytime soon, unless perhaps we start seeing spectacular losses. Automated exploit finders might accelerate those. I wrote three years ago about the dangerous place we were in. On the technology side of that story, the main thing that has changed is that it's clear we are in even more danger than I thought. 89 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
THEThe PERILS Perils OFofCONNECTIVITY Connectivity AND and SHARING Sharing
The Perils of Connectivity and Sharing
ould people still use such a downgraded Web? Given the other options in a world that takes isolation and separation seriously, I suspect it would remain the best connection available.
well take decades. Perhaps some especially security-conscious corners will evolve more secure hardware out of our less secure parts, but it will be slow and bumpy. Simpler versions of existing processors are already more secure because they were less attached to speed. Security-conscious developers can build systems founded on isolation and separation.
Much like the Web, the Internet of Things (IoT) thrives on connectivity. Isolation and separation sound harmful to networks of devices acting in concert with remote controllers. However, IoT's connections to our heating, lighting, and access systems make its security especially important. Assuming both that IoT takes security more seriously than it has, and that isolation and separation are key parts of a new model, what might IoT look like?
Some of this could involve splitting out general purpose devices into single-purpose devices. It might make sense again to split out the phone, say, into its own device, with a mechanism for connecting a small local touchscreen computer. Perhaps analog circuits, difficult to hack unless you physically modify them, will make a comeback, connected to our digital systems for specific kinds of processing and identification. I love my general purpose computing devices in large part because they are so general, but isolation and separation may well call for a different approach.
Unlike most of the Web, the IoT has an advantage here, in the physical nature of its devices. Right now, devices can go anywhere, with configuration and control set over the network. Device creators can, however, limit that reach. We can simplify communications over the network, shifting the intelligence of the system to hubs. Configuration can be set by a physical connection between the controlling hub and the target device, exchanging encryption keys used later to verify commands sent over a network. The network remains central to ordinary use, but the aspects that establish identity and control move to explicitly physical connections. Physical connections would also require a shift away from connecting to the cloud, changing data flows and reopening conversations about when to share data. I have a harder time picturing these kinds of changes coming into our general purpose computers, including our phones. Budget decisions from 1945 haunt those devices, and training hardware and software developers to different models could 90 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
All of these possible changes are difficult. I'm not at all sure we have the commitment to make them happen. We may well decide that the cost of regular breakage and break-in is less than the cost of rebuilding our systems, as consequences stay minimal. I suspect that we'll only see these approaches in far corners for a while to come. Perhaps, though, they can evolve best practices that merge with our broader networks and systems, helping to keep us safe.
Simon St.Laurent Content Manager Lynda.com New York, US. Simon St.Laurent has spent the last two decades working with and documenting the Web and related technologies.
needs to acknowledge that Facebook is a media company 91 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
Facebook IS a Media Company
ast month, in response to a growing concern about Facebook's corrosive impact on our culture and democracy, Mark Zuckerberg proposed a series of reforms to his ubiquitous social network. Designed to counter Facebook's infestation of fake news and online incivility, Zuckerberg's reforms focused on the de-emphasis of curated content from traditional publishers and brands and a reprioritization of content generated by friends and family. Zuckerberg, then, is doubling down on his original vision of the social network that he founded from his Harvard dorm room in 2004. The whole idea of Facebook, from its beginning, was to "democratize" connectivity, to enable anyone to create a network, to empower all members of the social network to post anything they liked and distribute that content to their friends and family.
standards for judging relevant news, what we see is what we want to see. Facebook’s user-generated-content, therefore, has become one of the central founts of our echochamber culture.
The problem is that Facebook's business model is profoundly flawed. By giving away his product for free and collecting revenue through the sale of advertising on its network, Mark Zuckerberg has turned his users into his products. Facebook, like Google, is a big data company that leverages its users' data — our most personal information — to create a half a trillion dollar pioneer of surveillance capitalism.
This fragmented world that Emmanuel Macron describes is a Facebook world. It’s ironic, of course. For all its pretense as a platform for worldwide understanding and global communications, Facebook — because of its absence of professionally curated content and its reliance of friends and family as a guide to the news — is actually an agent of localism and nativism. And, of course, without gatekeepers, Facebook is profoundly vulnerable to being gamed — especially by organized armies of trolls organized and financed from Moscow.
And so Facebook has become an unintentional purveyor of localism and parochialism. At Davos this year, French President Emmanuel Macron imagined the And yet, with these "reforms," Zuckerberg is world at a crossroads. One fork, he said, took really only rearranging the deckchairs on the us further down the globalization road. The Titanic. They fail to address Facebook's core other, Macron warned, engineered by our problem. That the world's dominant social “misgiving and fears” about globalization network, with its almost 2 billion users, is a is leading to what he called “greater media company that will neither acknowledge protectionism, greater fragmentation” and nor take on the responsibilities of a media the “undoing of what globalization has been company. able to achieve.”
Almost accidentally, with its increasing ubiquity in our lives, Facebook also became the dominant platform for the distribution for news. In 2017, for example, Pew Research reported that 45% of Americans got their news on Facebook. The problem, however, is that, rather than being curated by professional journalists with universalist, objective 92 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
And so Zuckerberg’s retreat back to the founding ideals of his site — of friends and family as the distribution mechanism of content — only compounds the very problems that he’s trying to solve.
Facebook IS a Media Company
So how should Zuckerberg be responding to the Facebook crisis of legitimacy? How can Facebook fix the future? Mark Zuckerberg needs to acknowledge that Facebook is a media company and become accountable for the content on his network. Taking responsibility for this content might not make shortterm business sense because it would require him to employ many thousands of professional curators, but it is a sound long-term business and ethical strategy. It makes sense of business terms because it's the only credible way of cleaning up Facebook's image and ensuring that the content on the network is reliable and accurate. And it makes sense ethically because Facebook should have an obligation to protecting American democracy.
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Moreover, Zuckerberg needs to recalibrate his "reform" of Facebook. Moving away from prioritizing professional content is civically irresponsible. Given Facebook's prominence in the distribution of news, Zuckerberg should be doubling down on the civic value of his network. The great scarcity of the digital age is trust. If Facebook aggressively embraced its role as an objective distributor â€” Silicon Valley's version of the BBC or NPR â€” of professional content, it could become on the few trusted institutions of our digital age.
Facebook IS a Media Company
rust is essential for the longterm viability of Facebook. Our paranoid culture begets a suspicion of everything and everyone. As a platform for the distribution of this paranoia, Facebook has to try to separate itself from its own culture. But to do this successfully, requires a genuine commitment to challenging the very foundations of Mark Zuckerberg's creation mythology. Otherwise, Facebook dissidents like Jim Carey will become the rule. Zuckerberg must take a stand against the very localism and xenophobia that has spawned xenophobes and narcissists like Trump in the US, Erdogan in Turkey and Duterte in the Philippines. But to do this requires him to challenge and change his own ideology. Curation matters. Gatekeepers are not only essential to democracy but also to media companies like Facebook. And, as a media company, Facebook needs to start charging users to use its platform. This may seem sacrilegious to Facebook's original advertising business model, but it's essential for the company's longterm economic viability. "Free" doesn't work because it transforms its users into products of our data-rich age. The only defense against this is by charging users for Facebook services and technology. Then Facebook will be able to commit to protecting its users' privacy. All this should make perfect business sense to a visionary like Mark Zuckerberg. He knows that Facebook's dominance of the market isn't pre-ordained. It's greatest vulnerability is losing the trust of its users. Ironically, quantifying the economic value of its products and services might be the wisest way of maintaining the trust of the nearly two billion people on Facebook. 94 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
Andrew Keen Founder and Executive Producer at FutureCast Santa Rosa, California, US. Andrew Keen is one of the worldâ€™s best known and controversial commentators on the digital revolution. He is the author of four books: Cult of the Amateur, Digital Vertigo, and his international hit The Internet Is Not The Answer which the London Sunday Times acclaimed as a "powerful, frightening read" and the Washington Post called "an enormously useful primer for those of us concerned that online life isn't as shiny as our digital avatars would like us to believe." Andrew's latest book, How to Fix the Future, was published on February 6 in the US and will be released on March 6 in the UK. It focuses on how people all over the world are solving the most pressing problems of the digital revolution. Andrew is executive director of the Silicon Valley innovation salon FutureCast, the host of the popular Internet chat show "Keen On", a Senior Fellow at CALinnovates, a columnist for CNN, and a renown public speaker both domestically and abroad. In 2015, he was named by GQ magazine in their list of the "100 Most Connected Men.â€?
Simple Secrets of
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Simple secrets of Troll Antivenom
I’ve got trolls. Perhaps I’ve had them longer than I know, since I don’t routinely frequent the echo chambers of self-serving derision in which they preferentially huddle. I know for sure I’ve had them since I first voiced my support for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report, before that excellent and evidencebased work was diluted into the tepid broth of political expediency. Now, as then, my trolls all seem to share social media DNA with the entities that mobilized the funds of selfinterest to, for instance, expunge from our dietary guidelines an urgently essential emphasis on sustainability. 96 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
So, yes, I’ve got trolls, but I am not writing to whine about it. I consider it the very acceptable price to pay for picking up the gauntlet thrown down by Edmund Burke. I suspect many of you have done the same, and you may have trolls, too. Besides, you can’t really say you’ve made it in the Digital Age until you have a troll or two to call your own. There is something almost reassuring about the occasional encounter with their slimy little trails, knowing your efforts have attracted them. It suggests you are probably on to something important, and should certainly persevere. Be that as it may, the trolls are, of course, up to no good. Sometimes their only agenda is their own notoriety, generally by exploiting someone who has earned recognition the hard way, with years of effort devoted to something genuinely worthwhile. Sometimes their agenda is rather more pernicious: mayhem itself. Troll currencies include discord, defamation, and doubt in perpetuity. Doubt is among the currencies of legitimate science, too, but they are not the same species of doubt. The advance of science reliably establishes fundamental truths about climate change, diet and health, and the net effects of immunization, while always allowing for uncertainty at the margins, and leaving room for the advances yet to come from more science. The doubt propagated by trolls is almost exactly the opposite. What they claim to know, they espouse with the absolute certainty native only to fools and fanatics. Isolated anecdotes are used to refute the weight of evidence, however massive. Convenient, and almost invariably hyperbolic headlines, in response to a study of often dubious design and conflicted patronage, are invoked to challenge the sum total of all knowledge on the topic aggregated until the day prior.
uch the same translates to their ad hominem mischief. A convenientlytimed photo of Gandhi, for instance, with a hand raised to swat a mosquito would make perfect troll fodder, under the caption: “Gandhi gets violent!” Were Gandhi a child of the social media age, a lifetime of devotion to non-violence could be called into the troll variety of doubt by photographic happenstance, misrepresentation, and derisive innuendo.
Simple secrets of Troll Antivenom and innuendo. Meat certainly confers an advantage to a famine-prone population facing protein malnutrition. Does this pertain to the overfed, overfat, proteinoverloaded residents of the world’s industrialized countries? Only in the tales told by trolls, full of sound and fury, and signifying nothing but the manipulations of propaganda and some entity’s profit.
This matters not just to me, or others with trolls in their entourage, but to us all. The troll variety of doubt has forestalled climate change action so that islands are sinking, aquifers drying, forests dying, and ice caps melting. How easy to find one place in a warming world where climate change has changed sea currents, and created an isolated area of colder temperatures. An image of the single acre somewhere in the world where there is more ice this year than last is platinum in the hands of climate-change trolls. The same is true of diet. The prevailing pop-culture allure of protein owes much to the efforts of trolls in the service of their paymasters. Do you think Homo sapiens need to eat meat to grow muscle? That is false. Do you think plants lack essential amino acids? That is false. Do you think the typical American needs to try to get enough protein? Actually, the typical American gets much more than needed. Do you think excessive calories from protein do not contribute to obesity like all others? They do. Does plant protein offer decisive advantages to the health of people and planet alike? Yes. But none of this precludes the weaving of a counter-narrative from anecdote 97 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
wo thoughtful publications have recently highlighted the vulnerability of health in general, and diet in particular to the reverberations of such misrepresentation. This occurs even when the distortion is not entirely willful, as it is with trolls; but trolls obviously make it much worse. Subtle bias, and the desire or even professional need to be heard above the constant modern din, can erode the reliability of any single study, to say nothing of the media representations of it. All the more reason to renounce the treatment of science, in any domain, as a Ping-Pong match in which every action directionally reverses the last. Science is much more like a relay race, in which progress builds on prior progress, and the directional advance toward any given finish line is reliable, and relentless. Yes, of course, a baton may be dropped; a scientist may stumble. There can and will be missteps. But these do nothing to obscure or forestall the trend of progress toward the prize, which in the case of science is understanding.
Much, then, depends on differentiating the messages from honest agents of current truth as it is best understood, and the willful misdirection of trolls. How is one to distinguish?
Simple secrets of Troll Antivenom troll vitriol; vigilance is troll anti-venom. Whenever confronted by brash claims and provocations, check the credentials, connections, contributions, and communication style of the source. Trolls often lack the credentials indicating actual expertise in the domains of their most emphatic assertions; they generally deal in false equivalence and refute the admissibility of credentials. But the next time you board a plane, or enter the O.R. on a gurney, ask yourself if hard-earned credentials might in fact matter. What’s good for the gurney is good for the gander, if you know what I mean. Trolls tend to be connected to other trolls, so the patterns of derision and innuendo encompass not just them, but also the company they keep. Trolls tend to contribute little or nothing to the world other than misdirection; they generally haven’t developed useful tools or programs, or conducted studies. And trolls deal principally in a discourse of snark, derision, and defamatory innuendo. Serious people are focused on content; trolls specialize in disparaging tone. Check social media feed. If it is unduly focused on trivialities, one or just a few people, endlessly repeated ad hominems, and displays a far greater interest in character assassination than adding anything of actual value to the world- you are reliably in the realm of trolls.
General distrust is one possibility, but I think, a bad one. A world without trust is an unpleasant place to live, and at odds with the unity that fosters our greatest strength. Besides, this method discards the baby with the bathwater. I think, to borrow a bit from Tennyson, it is better to have trusted and been misled than never to have trusted at all.
But of course, not all that assaults our comfort is trollish. There is a crucial need to differentiate trolls from whistle blowers, for instance. Whistle blowers deal in matter we actually need to know. At times, the seemingly acceptable status quo is just carefully tended façade; Harvey Weinstein comes immediately to mind. Whistle blowers are the brave among us who call out that hollow shell; they are the From Alfred Lord Tennyson to Ronald Reagan is ones first to say out loud: “the emperor has no a significant shift, but we have Reagan to thank clothes!” for the best-known articulation of a better way: trust, but verify. Verification is the antidote to 98 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
Simple secrets of Troll Antivenom Trolls, in contrast, deal in ultimately unintriguing intrigue, and non-scandalous scandals. Their specialty is inanities, sauced with innuendo, and repeated profusely in the hope that someone else takes interest. Generally, though, the work of trolls plays out like lighting a wet fuse: sparks at first, then an undignified fizzle. In contrast, whistle blowers may be drowned out at first, but their signal rises in time over the static as the call is amplified by others catching on. Truth flourishes in daylight. Troll drivel withers in it, although the process may be painfully protracted. Though trolls are now rather rampant, we must all be on guard against a rush to judgment, too. Everyone should get the benefit of the doubt; everyone should be innocent until proven guilty. That goes for trolls, too; someone isn’t a troll just because someone else says they are! Trust, but verify; then judge.
The antidote to troll venom is the vigilance of verification. It is, as well, a commitment to understanding the truth by embracing the truth about understanding: it never derives from absolute convictions propounded into echo chambers, and it does not do 180 degree turns with every news cycle.
For evil to triumph in the world, it is enough for good people to do nothing. For trolls to triumph in the world, it is enough for gullible people to believe them. May we be good and trusting, but also vigilant, and apt to verify.
David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, FACLM Founder, True Health Initiative; CEO, DQPN; CSO, Better+; Senior Medical Advisor, Verywell.com, DQPN, Diet Quality Photo Navigation Derby, Connecticut, US. David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, FACLM is the founding director (1998) of Yale University’s Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, and current President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. He is a two-time diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine, and a board-certified specialist in Preventive Medicine/Public Health. He has received two Honorary Doctorates. Dr. Katz has published roughly 200 scientific articles and textbook chapters, and 15 books to date, including multiple editions of leading textbooks in both Preventive Medicine and nutrition. He has made important contributions in the areas of lifestyle interventions for health promotion; nutrient profiling; behavior modification; holistic care; and evidence-based medicine. A widely supported nominee for the position of U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Katz has been recognized by Greatist.com as one of the 100 most influential people in health and fitness in the world for the past three years (2013-). He is recognized globally for expertise in nutrition, weight management and the prevention of chronic disease, and has a social media following of well over half a million. He has delivered addresses in numerous countries on four continents, and has been acclaimed by colleagues as the “poet laureate” of health promotion. In 2015, Dr. Katz established the True Health Initiative to help convert what we know about lifestyle as medicine into what we do about it, in the service of adding years to lives and life to years around the globe. 99 sqwawqs Issue 4 March 2018
Magazine for entreprenuership, business and startups, featuring advice & information from business leaders in the fields of marketing, strat...
Published on Apr 4, 2018
Magazine for entreprenuership, business and startups, featuring advice & information from business leaders in the fields of marketing, strat...