EP# 039: Xerox: Fumbling the Furture

EP# 039: Xerox: Fumbling the Furture

A great book by Douglas Smith and Robert Alexander called Fumbling the future: How Xerox invented, then ignored, the first personal computer. This book explains how Xerox failed to profit from all the amazing innovations developed at the company's computer technology lab, Xerox PARC. Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) was the epicenter of the digital computer revolution.

We have seen many examples of companies dropping the ball on game changing technologies and trends such as Kodak, Research in Motion, Nokia, and Blockbuster. But Xerox and PARC were great examples of mismanagement and arrogance. So let’s do a quick review of Xerox, PARC, and the personal computer.

EP# 038: Japan Travel

EP# 038: Japan Travel

Traveling is a great way to build your database of new experiences. And new experiences are the ingredients to creative thinking. In this episode, Dr. O shares a recent trip to Japan and how cultural changes are amazing ways to gather the building blocks of innovation. 

If you have never been to Japan, or live there currently, you will enjoy this overview of the good and bad of this country, which Dr. O has lived in and visited for over 20 years. Put aside 60 minutes and take a quick trip to the amazing world of Japan.

EP# 036: Simplicity

EP# 036: Simplicity

Simplicity takes effort and motivation. Simplicity needs to become part of an organization’s culture. Complexity creates inefficiencies, waste, and wasted mental energy. Knowing what to pay attention to and what to ignore is the critical steps toward simplicity.

Never forget, “keep it simple and good things will happen”. Focus on problems, use creative thinking, and most importantly use common sense. Listen more than you speak and fully understand the situation. Simplicity is hard, but necessary as the global business environment becomes increasingly complicated and ambiguous. Having the mental courage and flexibility to simplify your world, takes a strong mindset so practice and do not give up. Remember, everything can and should be simplified.

EP# 035: The LEGO Story

EP# 035: The LEGO Story

The Lego Group has an amazing history and the brand has the capacity to reawaken the sense of experimentation and play that resides within everyone. From its founding in 1932 to the introduction of the interlocking toy bricks in 1949, to the massive losses in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the story of Lego is an amazing business tale of struggle, success, failure, and reinvention. With relentless innovation over the company’s 8+ decades and overcoming aggressive competitors offering electronics or other forms of building sets, Lego has survived and prospered.

EP# 034: Toy Wars

EP# 034: Toy Wars

This episode I review a great book, The Toy Wars: The Epic Struggle Between GI Joe, Barbie, and the Companies that Make Them by G. Wayne Miller.

Toy Wars outlines the battles of the leading toy companies from the 1970s through the 1990s. Focusing primarily on Hasbro and Mattel, the book provides an excellent historical overview of each company and the legendary products they developed and the challenges of competing in a highly volatile industry that balances success and failure on the whims of short-lived fads.

EP# 033: OTC: Barriers to Creativity

EP# 033: OTC: Barriers to Creativity

Most people have incorrect assumptions about creativity. They think you either have it or you don’t. Many people also think new ideas just happen, serendipitously—but creativity is not mysterious. Everyone can (and should) become more creative. Not enough of us use creativity to improve ourselves, our organizations, and our communities.

But don’t worry, you can overcome these barriers with a positive mindset, learning the tools and techniques to develop new, creative ideas, practicing, and then applying your new ideas to create innovative new products, services, or processes. In addition, you can begin developing a creative culture within your organization by gaining senior leadership support, experimenting, and accepting failure as a critical part of the creative process.

EP# 032: The Indian Powerhouses

EP# 032: The Indian Powerhouses

Indian companies have gone global, and are dominating key industries. I recently read the book India’s Global Powerhouses by Nirmalya Kumar. This great resource shows how India’s global powerhouses are focusing on lucrative high-margin markets in the developed world while maintaining low-cost bases in India. 

This episode will review several of these global Indian firms which have dominated their respective markets. Indian firms are innovating and building low-cost business models to reach India’s masses and still be profitable. They combine frugal engineering and innovation, along with a low-cost business model to provide a growing customer base around the world.

EP# 031: Willis Carrier and Modern AC

EP# 031: Willis Carrier and Modern AC

For ages man has tried to control the weather, be it to keep cool or warm. Most early ways to cool was open windows and mechanical systems. And to deal with summer heat before air conditioning, most people would sit on their stoops or fire escapes, eat or drink cold foods and beverages or even sleep in parks, or other places outside.

The early applications of air conditioning were for consistency in manufacturing, not for the comfort of people. Factories were brutal “sweatshops” – built for profit not for comfort or employee well-being.

Air conditioning was the hybrid of two technologies – electricity and refrigeration. It did not immediately take-off with the public due to its costs and space needed for the large amount of equipment. Also, most people thought AC was a dream, not a possible reality. Pioneers like Willis Carrier envisioned a world of manufactured weather to allow people to escape the challenges of heat and cold and poor internal environments.

EP#030: The Tata Group

EP#030: The Tata Group

The Tata Group is India’s biggest conglomerate company, founded in 1868 by Jamsetji Tata and headquartered in Mumbai, India. The Tata Group operates in over 100 countries throughout the world is believed to be India's best-known global brand within and outside the country. The ongoing mission of the group has been and is to develop India into a modern industrial nation. The story of the Tatas is another great example of dreaming big and never stop innovating.

EP# 029: OTC: Achieve the Impossible

EP# 029: OTC: Achieve the Impossible

Innovation is the lifeblood of an economy. Every one of us needs to continually improve ourselves and the world around us. Developing new, fresh ideas is vital as the world goes though monumental change in terms of socio-economic forces and rapidly changing technology. The goal of innovation should not solely be profit, but most importantly a way to improve the lives of others. 

This episode is a high-level overview of innovation and why everyone must innovate, every day. To truly change the world we must overcome the status quo and dogma. We must have laser-like focus and the ability to visualize our future. With the proper tools and techniques, along with an attitude and mindset of optimism, positivity, and passion, we can (and must) change the world, for the better.

EP# 028: Eiichi Shibusawa - The Father of Japanese Capitalism

EP# 028: Eiichi Shibusawa - The Father of Japanese Capitalism

Eiichi Shibusawa was Japan’s first modern venture capitalist. He financed and started more than 500 new businesses which he would leave when he felt they could operate on their own. As a serial entrepreneur, he championed the modern shareholder and corporate governance. He created the non-zaibutsu corporate model and created a vision for society as helped to create over 600 philanthropic institutes (zaibutsu: large Japanese business conglomerates, often controlled by one central family).

EP# 027: The New Lanchester Strategy (Part II)

EP# 027: The New Lanchester Strategy (Part II)

Frederick Lanchester was a key figure in the development of the automotive industry and the man who defined modern aeronautical technology and science. Lanchester is another legend in technology and science that most of us have never heard of or never learned about in business or engineering school. The theories Lanchester developed were adapted for business, especially sales and marketing which we will focus on within this episode.

Japanese business consultant Dr. Nobuo Taoka adapted Lanchester’s theories into The New Lanchester Strategy which provides guidelines for creating winning business strategies for both market leaders or firms struggling to remain profitable or increase market share. The lessons in this episode are straightforward but extremely effective for developing differentiation and keeping your competitors guessing and your customers excited.

EP# 026: The New Lanchester Strategy (Part I)

EP# 026: The New Lanchester Strategy (Part I)

Frederick Lanchester was a key figure in the development of the automotive industry and the man who defined modern aeronautical technology and science. Lanchester is another legend in technology and science that most of us have never heard of or never learned about in business or engineering school. The theories Lanchester developed were adapted for business, especially sales and marketing which we will focus on within this episode.

Japanese business consultant Dr. Nobuo Taoka adapted Lanchester’s theories into The New Lanchester Strategy which provides guidelines for creating winning business strategies for both market leaders or firms struggling to remain profitable or increase market share. The lessons in this episode are straightforward but extremely effective for developing differentiation and keeping your competitors guessing and your customers excited.

EP# 025: OTC: Improve Yourself

EP# 025: OTC: Improve Yourself

I am a scientist and require data and evidence when creating new products or developing new businesses. However, I also believe in some of the touchy-feely self-help side of life; the self-improvement stuff that most people do not associate with science or business.

But I believe you not only need to develop key business skills such as market research, creative and critical thinking, decision making and problem solving, but you also must have the mindset to achieve the impossible and never stop working toward improving yourself, your organization, and your community.

This episode will review five helpful books to improve your soft skills.

EP# 024: Henry Ford: My Life and Work

EP# 024: Henry Ford: My Life and Work

A great book to expand your business knowledge is, My Life and Work by Henry Ford. Yes, the founder and namesake of the world-famous automobile empire. The book was originally published in 1922 and is a brief autobiography as well as Ford’s ideas on business and life.

My Life and Work takes you inside the mind of a person who managed to change the world, yet who lived in obscurity for the first 40 years of his life. This was a long time to develop skills, both personal and mechanical, which laid the foundation for a massive enterprise.

EP# 023: The Mongol Business Model

EP# 023: The Mongol Business Model

The Mongol Empire was founded by Chinggis Khan (aka Genghis Khan) and became the largest contiguous empire in history stretching from the Sea of Japan to the Mediterranean Sea and the Carpathian Mountains. In the 13th century the Mongols redrew world boundaries, consolidating smaller countries into larger ones. Mongols still controlled India in 1857 and the last ruling descendant, Alim Khaim, emir of Bukhara, was still in power in Uzbekistan in 1920.

So why are we talking about the Mongols on a business podcast about strategy and innovation? Well, the Mongols were some of the most innovative societies ever. Mongol leaders ruled the world with an iron fist but created amazing innovations in military, economic, and social life. As business professionals, we can all learn and be motivated by the amazing changes the Mongols brought to the world and their ability to adapt and change based on different circumstances. Also, their strategies and tactics can be incorporated into business to allow you and your organization to become a leader in your market.

EP# 022: OTC: Sell Those Ideas

EP# 022: OTC: Sell Those Ideas

As product managers we need many tools in our quiver to excel at our jobs. From the ability to develop creative ideas, to the use of systematic research techniques to understand competitors and customers, to strong analytical skills to evaluate market data, these are all critical business skills. But an often overlooked skill is selling. As product managers we often have a love-hate relationship with salespeople. But no matter how we feel about selling, we all need to excel at this critical skill.

EP# 021: Edwin Land and Polaroid

EP# 021: Edwin Land and Polaroid

Edwin Land was a Harvard dropout, a tech genius with a relentless drive for perfection. Before there was a Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, or Mark Zuckerberg, a Silicon Valley type story was created in and around Boston Massachusetts. Land was a tech genius with amazing ideas, who was relentless and obsessive, and cwho hanged the world.

He was a modern pioneer who ran Polaroid for over 50 years, longer than Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and George Eastman ran their famous companies. The company was a truly innovative tech and marketing company. Polaroid and Land also worked with famous artists and musicians such as Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorp, Peter Gabriel, David Byrne from The Talking Heads, Ansel Adams, and Lady Gaga. Polaroid supplied them with film for photos and technical feedback, as well as the publicity the connections created.

As any great inventor, Land would note:

“You must expect failure after failure after failure before you succeed”

EP# 020: OTC: Recap - Episodes 1-19

EP# 020: OTC: Recap - Episodes 1-19

This episode is a recap of the previous 19 episodes. Past episodes focused on key themes such as creativity, lifelong learning, strategy, continuous improvement, and the importance of never giving up. 

From amazing historical figures from business and military such as Sun Tzu, W. Edwards Deming, Peter Drucker and Col. John Boyd, The Business Fanatic podcast focuses on sharing stories to help you succeed in business and life. Sharing military and business examples that are not often taught in business or engineering schools, these incredible people and the companies they created provide important lessons to change yourself and the world.