Words On The Web

June 28, 2013


Some revealing attention span and internet browsing statistics can be found here (see sample above, click to enlarge).

On the topic of skimming and grabbing attention, this page is refreshing in it’s simplicity and for getting it’s point over. However, it’s hard to believe that the core idea, however admirable, is widely believed or acted upon:

At its heart, web design should be about words. Words don’t come after the design is done. Words are the beginning, the core, the focus.

In spirit, it reminded me a bit of Fish, the inventive and free iPhone app that spotlights the (enormous) difference between liking (= reading) and loving (= rereading) material on the web.

Most material is cursorily skimmed of course, so neither liked nor loved!

I sometimes buy (physical) newspapers. In an analagous manner,  it’s interesting that when I scan/read the pages I’ve noticed that I’ve trained my eyes to avoid all adverts – they’re effectively invisible. This may just be me of course – my mother seems to read everything on every page!

Picture credit: here.

Learn To Negotiate Well

June 26, 2013

“In business as in life, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.” – Chester L Karrass

There are some negotiating tips for budding entrepreneurs here, focusing on what not to do!

Never Say No Immediately

June 24, 2013

It’s often easier to say ‘yes’ than ‘no’ to activities, especially when there’s no pressing competition for your time. It may also play on the idea that otherwise you might be missing out (and you might).

However  saying ‘yes’ can also get you involved in all sorts of auxiliary activities, often because tasks veer off in directions you hadn’t expected or want (and weren’t made fully aware of). So it then pays to say ‘no’.

Here’s some helpful tips to consider if you’re thinking about saying ‘no’ (to an idea, a project or whatever). It’s an edited extract from a longer article at A List Apart that motivates them in the context of software design and development. As explained in the article, the following points are takeaways from a book, The Power of a Positive No, by William Ury.

  • Never say no immediately. Don’t react in the heat of the moment, or you might say something you don’t really mean.
  • Be specific in describing your interests. When saying no, it’s better to describe what you’re for rather than what you’re against.
  • Have a plan B. There will be times that other people just won’t take your no for an answer. So you’re going to need a plan B as a last resort.
  • Express your need without neediness. Desperation is never attractive and won’t get you anywhere.
  • Present the facts and let the other draw their own conclusions. I’d venture to guess that most of the time you’re working with people who are pretty smart, pretty logical, and pretty well-intentioned.
  • The shorter it is, the stronger it is. The longer the argument, the sloppier and less well-thought out it appears. You don’t need five reasons why something won’t work; just one good one will do.
  • As you close one door, open another. Don’t be a wet blanket. If you strongly believe that something shouldn’t be done, devise an alternative that people can get behind.
  • Be polite. Ninety-nine times out of 100 we’re talking about issues of mild discomfort and dissatisfaction, not life-or-death issues.

All For One Great Idea

June 19, 2013

From the Cult of Android:

Every successful company has one massively great idea upon which all their success is based.

Google’s massively great idea is that amazing algorithms plus overwhelming compute power can solve just about any problem.

Apple’s massively great idea is that horrible content-consumption experiences can be fixed with blank-slate thinking and well-designed hardware-software-service combinations.

And Microsoft’s massively great idea, which preceded Google’s by decades, is that software does not want to be free. Software wants to be profitable and hardware wants to be a zero-margin commodity. The “secret sauce” for this approach, which enabled Microsoft to dominate for years, is that making more money on software lets you spend more on new software products, which gives you an advantage in emerging software markets.

Above all, however, Microsoft model of making its living from the price charged for software is being obsoleted by Google’s model of giving software away free and subsidizing it primarily with ad-supported cloud services.

It reminded me, in general terms, of a quote I read recently: “Civilisations die from suicide, not murder” – Arnold Toynbee (historian)

Amazings Progress

June 16, 2013


About six months ago I highlighted the Amazings project that has, as it’s mission

The Amazings was born out of a single, simple idea.

Society has always learned from its elders. but somewhere along the way we have lost that connection between generations — which means losing rich, valuable, and rare skills.

We’re on a mission to fix this and we need your help.

I took a look at it the other day and there’s been alot of progress – see here.

Pinterest has a nice visual overview as well, see here.

They’re on the lookout for new participants, so why not get in touch with them if this topic interests you?

Are you over 50 years of age, passionate or skilled and keen to pass those passions and skills onto other people?

You don’t have to be really out-going, you just need to be able to talk to people and explain how you do what you do.

Do You Know What You’re Really Good At?

June 14, 2013


Click To Enlarge

I came across the Einstein quote above by chance and it got me thinking about how to figure out what you’re (naturally) good at.

In my experience it’s not always easy to assess what you’re really good at. As an example, friends and colleagues may have quite different views than yourself.

Sometimes this discrepancy is purely relative – you can do something easily and quickly that they can’t and that may not be particularly meaningful. However sometimes they can’t quite explain what you’re best at, it’s just a feeling.

I’m not talking about learned technical skills here, but something that you have a natural flair for. For example, some people are natural networkers – it’s simply part of their personality. However, they may end up in situations where this ability isn’t particularly important or even a disadvantage (e.g. by unintentionally treading on other people’s toes).

There’s also the thorny issue of what you’d like to be good at and what you are actually good at!

From personal experience, I know I’ve joined companies where there has been a good initial alignment between my natural strengths and what was needed but, after various reorganisations and strategy changes, I’ve ended up in situations where this was no longer true. There’s no grand scheme here, it’s purely accidental.

In fact it’s one of the oddities of many organisations that the knowledge and flair of individuals often gets sacrificed on the altar of ‘the general good of the company’.

Either way, no matter what situation you find yourself in, you certainly don’t want to end up as a fish trying to climb a tree!

PS For the fastidious amongst you, I checked – tree-climbing fish do in fact exist – see here!

Picture credit: here.

The Growth Of UK Mid-Sized Businesses

June 7, 2013

Grant Thornton MSB 2013

There’s often talk of developing small business growth but perhaps not so much on mid-sized businesses (MSBs, with typically 50-499 employees). There’s a very interesting and well-presented recent overview on MSBs from Grant Thornton here.

Picture credit: taken from the report.