Thursday, October 27, 2011

Elevator Speeches

I grew up in New York City high rises. Outside of a handful of neighbors, I hardly ever talked to anyone when I was riding the elevator. Now everyone asks me: “What is your elevator speech?”

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I first heard the term “elevator speech” a few years ago when I attended an organized speed networking event. It was explained to me that I needed to be able to describe to someone what I did professionally in thirty to sixty seconds, the length of an average elevator ride. When I researched the origins of the term, I traced it back to a 2007 article written by executive coach Aileen Pincus, The Perfect (Elevator )Pitch. “One of the most important things for a businessperson is to deliver a quick, succinct summation of what their company makes or does that excites others. The “Elevator Pitch” should be a fundamental skill.”

I have lost count how many times I have delivered my “elevator speech” at networking events, conferences, over the phone to people with whom I am connecting via LinkedIn, etc. All I know is I now sound like a fast talking politician. Today I am not going to bore you with my elevator speech, but this much I do know. Not once has anyone ever asked me a follow-up question after I delivered my stump speech. I always use the phrase “assist food manufacturers strategically” in the hope that someone would inquire what that entails, but nothing ever follows. Consequently I have asked myself do people really care. Has the term, what is your elevator speech become another business clichĂ©? Do people really care, but it would take too many nanoseconds to understand the depth of one’s professional achievement. This leads me to wonder what is next? How can we further fine tune our elevator speeches? Maybe an elevator ride is too long. How about limiting everything to the ultimate sound byte, 140 characters or less?

Do you have a business tweet?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Plan Less, Experiment More

Today marks the three year anniversary of SMARTKETING Reflections. I would like to take time out to thank all my readers for your continual interest. My goal in Year IV is to plan less, experiment more.

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Candidly, I still consider myself a blogging novice. The spine of my postings is to provide relevant content about current trends as it relates to society, consumerism and marketing. Even though I try to plan out the flow of my content, I am continuously experimenting. However, in the process I have learned that blogging is a great way to stay connected with everyone throughout the year.

In closing, your collective feedback has been great. I truly value it. Consequently I am still learning, still experimenting and realize I have a ways to go, but I am definitely having fun. Share the fun. Thank you. I anticipate your continued readership.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Smart Cities

Computer algorithms are now being developed to provide analytics that help city officials develop proactive versus reactive solutions for a programmed emergency. Welcome to the era of Smart Cities.

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One of the first Smart Cities is Rio de Janeiro. The city began working with I.B.M. back in 2007 to establish an Intelligent Operations Center to predict the outcome of a major crisis like heavy thunderstorms. Data, historical and current, will analyze potential power outages, flooding, mudslides, etc., as well as project the availability of hospital beds, shelters, emergency workers, etc. This center, scheduled to open later this year, integrates 20 departments, from civil defense to traffic, that will be ready to assist in the day-to-day operational efficiency of the city.

I.B.M.’s Global Pubic Sector unit now has approximately 2,000 smarter cities projects in the works. It is projected that the total market opportunity for developing Smart Cities will be worth $34 billion this year and grow at an annual rate of 18.3 percent to $57 billion by 2014. New York City is a smart city and is working with I.B.M. to collect and share real time data for its fire department. Rotterdam has installed smart sensors in their levees to monitor conditions (e.g., water pressure, temperature, etc.) around the clock to minimize or even prevent flooding. Another company that is involved in working with city governments in a wide array of technology is Cisco. They offer a program called Community+ Exchange which streamlines planning and management at the community level. One of their major clients here in the states is San Antonio where law enforcement officials now have the ability to share real time information so their personnel can act more quickly.

With more anticipated natural catastrophes on the horizon, like earthquakes and resulting tsunamis, or even a terrorist event, there is an accelerated movement by city governments to develop Smart City environments. Are you living in a Smart City?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Second Gretzky

Last year NestlĂ© won SMARTKETING’s first Gretzky award for skating to where the puck is going to be. This year’s winner of the Gretzky award is Russian technology guru Yuri Milner.

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Yuri Milner is not a household name despite the fact that this year he made the Forbes Rich List, thanks to an estimated net worth of $1 billion. He has orchestrated his tech spotting from Moscow which is not exactly Silicon Valley when it comes to innovative economic ideas. Mr. Milner was an early investor in Facebook, sinking $200 million into the company for less than a two percent share back in 2009 when everyone thought he was crazy. He also predicted that both Zynga the gaming company and Groupon the daily deals site had great potential.

Recently at an economic conference conducted in Ukraine attended by the “best and brightest” in business discussing global economics and political malpractice, Yuri Milner provided a totally different, optimistic spin about the most pressing issue on Planet Earth – the technology revolution which in his view is just at the starting gate. Detailed below are the most significant changes he predicts we will witness:

The Internet revolution is the fastest, most accelerated economic change humans have experienced. Today two billion people are online; Mr. Milner predicts the number will double over the next decade.

Mr. Milner emphasizes that more information is being created than ever before. Specifically more information was created every 48 hours in 2010 as was created between the dawn of time and 2003. By 2020 the same volume of information will be generated every 60 minutes.

People are sharing this information more frequently. In 2006, 50 billion emails were sent; 300 billion by 2010. Shared content on Facebook will increase from 140 million messages in 2009 to over four billion this year. Mr. Milner points out that the largest newspaper in the United States only reaches 1 percent of the population compared to Internet media platforms being used by 25 percent of the population daily and growing.

Mr. Milner envisions the “Internet of Things” and the emergence of the global brain. “The Internet is not just about connecting people, it is also about connecting machines. Five billion devices are now connected, by 2020, 20 billion will be connected. The future connectivity/interaction between humans and machines will create an intelligence that will not belong to any single human being or computer.”

Yuri Milner has lived through and experienced major changes in the “offline” world. The collapse of his home country the Soviet Union, the “Great Recession”, the Arab Spring and now the potential for the collapse of the euro. However, based on his cyberspace track record and future predictions, he is continuing to demonstrate that he is skating to where the puck is going to be, the technology revolution. Yuri Milner, congratulations, you are SMARTKETING’s choice for its 2011 Gretzky award.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Autumn Leaves

I do not profess to be a World Traveler, but this much I do know. Right now, there are few more beautiful places to visit than the Storm King Art Center located in the lower Hudson Valley in New York. Why? Long range planning.

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The Storm King Art Center was founded by the co-owners of the Star Expansion Company, Ralph E. Ogden and his son-in-law H. Peter Stern. The company which specializes in metal fasteners and drills relocated from Bayonne, New Jersey to its current location in Mountainville, New York. In 1958, Ogden bought a 180-acre estate in the area through a family foundation. Concerned about the damage construction of the New York Thruway inflicted on the region’s landscape, Ogden began buying up surrounding land and then in 1960 with H. Peter Stern they opened a non-profit art center to the public. Their initial vision was to exhibit paintings by the Hudson River School. However, one year later they decided to make the art center a sculpture garden, harmonizing the rustic beauty of the landscape with sculpture from prominent artists – David Smith, Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, Mark di Suvero, etc. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Storm King Art Center. Thanks to a well managed foundation, it continues to grow and evolve in terms of acreage, landscaping and sculpture. Long range planning at its best.

Now I do recognize, long-range planning has become difficult thanks to our turbulent economy and the fast pace evolution of globalization. For most businesses, long-term planning is now conducted on either a quarterly or annual basis. A two year plan has become a rarity these days. However, there still is one element of business that takes long range planning – branding. Starbucks, Nike, Apple, etc. all great examples of relatively modern brands, each had a long range plan when it came to branding, a subject I addressed last year in a post titled Brand Stamps about Cirque de Soleil. Brands are built one customer at a time, one day at a time, one week at a time, etc., but still reflect an original vision that was part of a long range plan.
I would like to take timeout to thank Ralph E. Ogden, H. Peter Stern and the Storm King Art Center for teaching me the beauty of long range planning.