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Monday, February 27, 2006

Uncertainty

.. a follow up to that leadership stuff in my last post.

A key component of leadership is handling uncertainty. You can never know what will happen and there is risk associated with just about everything.

There is a certain amount of blind faith involved, and a certain amount of brut force required to pound through doubt.

The preacher analogy comes back again -- Unwavering faith; conviction. The best leaders will achieve these traits not just in themselves but also the people around them.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

On Leadership

A lot of chatter on leadership in my personal life recently, so I thought I'd put down my thoughts on the matter -- more as a sort of personal bookmark than any attempt at spouting wisdom.

I've reached a point in my own career where leadership has become central to just about everything. As my staff has swelled to approach 40, and my charge extended to three or four functional areas, I can't rely on individual relationships, clubhouse attitude, and strategic 'atta-boys' to get from here to there.

This is the personal side. I've found that while I don't take to it naturally, I do get it. I can even be good at it at times.

As a member of senior management, I'm also seeing the bigger picture challenges with leadership. To be honest, I now understand that most personal challenges with leadership originate at this level. Achieving clarity of purpose of the whole can make the rest of it very easy. Without it, gears grind, and it becomes very hard for people to fulfill the intermediate leadership roles.

But its very hard to achieve clarity of purpose that translates to all levels in the ranks, as well as the full range of major internal and external stakeholders.

The other day, a friend mentioned that Leadership is figuring out where everybody wants to go, then jumping out front and saying 'Follow me!'

There are a few great nuggets in this very simple statement. First, you need to talk to everybody -- employees, investors, partners, independent smart people. You need to listen. This is not to say everyone will agree... some will be flat wrong, others crazy. But this is where you find the answer.

Second, once you've figured it out -- achieved clarity of purpose -- you have to throw all of your weight behind it. Once you've figured it out, stop figuring and take responsibility for pulling everyone along with you.

Third, you have to say 'Follow me!' You have to communicate, in as many different ways as possible, where you are going and why you are going there. You have to preach. The message must be a part of the answer to every question.

If the core organizing principle, the defining element that yields clarity of purpose is simple, you are home free. But odds are that most of 'everybody' that you intend to lead will not have your perspective. You have to speak to them; you have to make them believe. Otherwise you are just a loudmouth, not a leader (or maybe just content to be the boss).

Complexity makes it even tougher to be disciplined about leadership. It becomes harder to motivate individual employees or even entire divisions with the same message that motivates investors. It all has to fit together, or it’s going to fall apart.

What gets us the financial results, the market share, the product capabilities, and the buzz that makes people want to continue to push towards those ends? Its leadership.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Contextual Video -- the gap

There is an interesting discussion of Exploding TV on A VC today. There is a response in the comments by Dave that claims that relevency in video advertising is the answer to free micro chunked copywrited video distribution

Who cares how long the ad is, as long as it is interesting and relevant? I've pretty much stopped watching live TV, and only watch pre-recorded shows via DVR. Well over 99% of the ads are skipped because I know that they are either not interesting or not relevant

I don't know if I agree with this or not, but it does present an interesting case for the convergence of a couple of peer-based concepts. Clearly, the answer is contextual advertising, which is not a new concept. Implementation in a video context is the tricky part.

Proper targetting requires that you understand the content of the video, at the very least. It could also require knowledge of the individual. Video content classification is much harder than text. You can't scan the content and dig out a relevency heierarchy.

The answer is in the tag. Social tagging can play both sides of this equation. Yourtube and the other social video services already build on the tagging concept. Tag clouds can provide the user component of targetting. The combination of content and user could provide advertisers, publishers, copywrite holders and distributers (social networks) an innovative and effective way to monitze micro-chunked video, if not full video.

Its almost a perfect web2.0 storm... and might actually stimulate this new distribution channel.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Signal in the noise

I ran across a R/W web post about temporary RSS engagements this morning. I think RSS overload and the burdens of pull-based distribution are starting to generate some applications. Still nothing simple, but I guess its a start.