April 28, 2006
Cardboardistry — by Paul Ahern
From his website:
- A brief explanation
My name is Paul Ahern.
I live in Brooklyn, NY and I make cardboard art [above and below].
If you would like to pay me some money (or trade something awesome) to make one for you, I would love to.
Call me at 917-584-4120 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a great day!
The back story: at 3:36 p.m. this afternoon Paul emailed me out of the blue.
Here is what his email said:
- Hi there,
I found your site while trying to find ways to promote my custom cardboard art, which I do from snapshots, and would be honored if you'd link to my site: http://www.cardboardistry.com/
Love your site.
Thanks for the consideration,
Your wish is my command, Paul.
No matter what else people might say about me and bookofjoe there's no disputing the fact that no one gets from 0-60 — as it were — faster.
Think Paul's gonna be surprised when this goes up?
Isaac Mizrahi Tulip Dress
I like it.
• 97% cotton/3% spandex
• Zippered back
• Machine wash.
Is Dr. Katrina Firlik, neurosurgeon-author, the new Paris Hilton?
and her new book (below)
I received the following email from Stephen A. Cochran:
- Looks like she might give Paris a run for her money. She's already got a book and a clothing line:
I had the crack research team look into her clothing line and I must say I think the Perforator Drill Bit* T-shirt below
would go awfully well with my skin color.
Wait a minute, joe — you're on Earth now, bonehead! — this shirt is for when you're back home.
In any case it's $22.49.
Her website is chock-full of interesting stuff about the brain, neurosurgery and life its ownself.
Terry Gross interviews her on NPR's "Fresh Air" this coming Tuesday, May 2.
Then there's an upcoming visit with Tavis Smiley on his show on PBS.
*"The perforator drill allows a surgeon to create holes in the skull, just like a clam drills into the sand."
Pet PDA — Paw Pilot?
Meaghan Wolff wrote about it in the April 16 Washington Post.
Here's the article.
- A PDA for Pets
What's that cute dog walker's name again?
And when is Toto's next play date?
The Pet Master ($25.45 at www.thepetmaster.com) might be able to help you find the answers.
To some, this PDA for your pet (yes, you read that right) may seem ridiculous, but for those who want to compartmentalize the hectic lives of Fido and Fluffy, this paw-shaped device is just the ticket. (It's the brainchild of Excalibur Electronics, also responsible for gadgets such as the Bar Master Deluxe, which is all about finding any drink "at the press of a button.")
Approximately the same size as most humans' PDAs, the Pet Master is designed to help you organize and store the various appointments and contacts associated with up to four pets -- checkups, groomings, vaccination schedules and play dates.
For the oblivious (or obsessed), it offers an alarm system that goes off when it's treat time or a birthday, and it comes with an encyclopedia of cat and dog information, from health tips to trivia.
It also comes stored with information that could prove useful on the road, such as lists of emergency vets in the United States and Canada, as well as pet-friendly hotels and motels (though in Washington, it fails to list any of the Kimpton Hotels, which are known to embrace those traveling with furry companions).
We won't yank your paw too hard: Without a proper alphabet and number keypad, data entry can be annoying, but the Pet Master offers enough useful information to make it a scheduler with entertainment value built-in.
'Management à la Google' — by Gary Hamel
It's the most interesting article I've read so far this week.
The piece appeared in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal.
Long story short: Hamel explains why he believes Google really is fundamentally different from every other company and why those differences will enable it to continue to grow steadily for years to come.
Here's the article.
- Management à la Google
Once again, Google's on a tear. Last week its stock price rose 9%, buoyed by a 60% jump in first-quarter profits and a 79% gain in revenues. Yet Google is still down 7% off its all-time high. Presumably, many of the investors who drove its shares down by nearly 30% during the first quarter remain doubtful about its ability to keep on delivering eye-popping growth in revenue and earnings. A little skepticism is a healthy thing.
Rockets follow a parabolic curve. While it's possible to ramp up a great business faster than ever before (thanks to plentiful capital, the wonders of outsourcing, and the Web's global reach), the more quickly a company grows, the sooner it fulfills the promise of its original business model, hits its peak, and begins the slide into senescence. For example, during the first 20 years of its existence, Dell grew its top line faster than any company before it. Yet Dell may now be coming down the backside of its strategy parabola. As its price advantage has eroded, growth has slowed and Dell's share price has taken a beating. As the world speeds up, young companies are at risk from the corporate equivalent of progeria -- the disease that dramatically accelerates the aging process in children.
The ultimate test of any management team is not how fast it can grow its company in the short-term, but how consistently it can grow it over the long-term. In a world where change is relentless and seditious, this demands a capacity for rapid strategic adaptation. In recent years we have witnessed adaptation failures by incumbents across a wide variety of industries: airlines, pharmaceuticals, automobiles, newspapers, and recorded music. In many cases, companies haven't been changing as fast as the world around them. What the laggards have failed to grasp is that what matters most today is not a company's competitive advantage at a point in time, but its evolutionary advantage over time. Google gets this.
While Google's growth will inevitably slow, there's a good chance that its revenues will arc upward for years. Why? Because its novel management system seems to have been designed to guard against the risk factors that so often erode an organization's evolutionary potential:
• Evolutionary risk factor #1: A narrow or orthodox business definition that limits the scope of innovation. Google's response: An expansive sense of purpose.
Executives often make the mistake of falling in love with a winsome business model. While fidelity is a virtue in marriage, it's a handicap in business. Google wants to grow its online ad business into the distant future, but its self-conception stretches far beyond its current revenue model. It is driven by an open-ended mission to organize the world's knowledge or, as one VP put it, raise the world's IQ. This vision animates a restless search for new opportunities.
• Evolutionary risk factor #2: A hierarchical organization that over-weights the views of those who have a stake in perpetuating the status quo. Google's response: An organization that is flat, transparent, and non-hierarchical.
When power is concentrated at the top, a tradition-bound executive team can hold a company's capacity to change hostage to its own ability to adapt. That's why it so usually takes a financial meltdown and leadership change to set a company on a new course. It is noteworthy that neither Larry Page nor Sergei Brin, Google's founders, has proclaimed himself "chief software architect," the badge Bill Gates wears at Microsoft. Rather than assume they're infallible seers with a divine right to dictate Google's next strategy and the one after that, Messrs. Page and Brin have created a Darwinian environment in which every idea must compete on its merits, not on the grandeur of its sponsor's title.
Google has invested heavily in building a highly transparent organization that makes it easy to share ideas, poll peers, recruit volunteers, and build natural constituencies for change. Every project team, and there are hundreds, maintains a Web site that is continuously monitored for peer feedback. In this way, unorthodox ideas have the chance to accumulate peer support -- or not -- before they get pummeled by the higher-ups. It also helps that Google is organized like the Internet itself: tightly connected, flat and meritocratic. Half of its employees -- all those involved in product development -- work in pint-sized teams, with an average of three or four engineers per team. Product managers typically have 50+ direct reports, making it hard for supervisors to micromanage. Critically, control is more peer-to-peer than manager-to-minion.
• Evolutionary risk factor #3: A tendency to overinvest in "what is" at the expense of "what could be." Google's response: A company-wide rule that allows developers to devote 20% of their time to any project they choose.
In most companies there are rigidities that perpetuate historical patterns of resource allocation. Managers eager to defend their power horde capital and talent even when those could be better used elsewhere. A dearth of new strategic options means that legacy projects get over-resourced while the future goes begging.
Google understands that even as it's ramping up today's business model, it has to be buying options on the future by creating a lot of little "Googlettes." Says CEO Eric Schmidt, "Our goal is to get more at bats per unit of time and effort than anyone else in the world." Evolution demands a lot of new experiments; but experimentation takes time and money, scarce commodities when every hour of time and every dollar of capital have already been allocated to some "mission critical" project. That's why every Google developer can spend up to 20% of his time working on off-budget, out-of-scope projects. This time is more than a perk; it's Google's seed corn for the future. The payoff? In one recent period, more than half of Google's newly launched products could trace their origins to a 20% project.
• Evolutionary risk factor #4: Creeping mediocrity. Google's response: Keep the bozos out and reward people who make a difference.
Elitism may be out of fashion, but Google is famously elitist when it comes to hiring. It understands that companies begin to slide into mediocrity when they start to hire mediocre people. A-level people want to work with A-level people. B-level people are threatened by class-A talent. So if you let a B-lister in the door, he or she will hire equally unremarkable colleagues. As the ranks of the mediocre expand, it becomes harder to attract and retain the exceptional. The process of dumbing down becomes irreversible.
Google's grueling hiring process, akin to a Mensa test, values nonconformity nearly as highly as genius. Preference is given to candidates who have weird avocations and out-of-the-ordinary experiences. It's one thing to hire ambitious brainiacs, and another to keep them. The Founders' Awards, an annual multimillion dollar payout to teams who've made outsize contributions to Google's growth, is one key retention mechanism The goal: to ensure that internal entrepreneurs have no incentive to take their best ideas somewhere else.
Only time will tell whether Google has succeeded in building an evolutionary advantage. But consider: Since it's founding, it has repeatedly morphed its business model. Google 1.0 was a search engine that crawled the Web but generated little revenue; which led to Google 2.0, a company that sold its search capacity to AOL/Netscape, Yahoo and other major portals; which gave way to Google 3.0, an Internet contrarian that rejected banner ads and instead sold simple text ads linked to search results; which spawned Google 4.0, an increasingly global entity that found a way to insert relevant ads into any and all Web content, dramatically enlarging the online ad business; which mutated into Google 5.0, an innovation factory that produces a torrent of new Web-based services, including Gmail, Google Desktop, and Google Base. More than likely, 6.0 is around the corner.
Of course Google may ultimately fall victim to hubris and imperial overstretch as it takes on Microsoft, Yahoo, eBay, the occasional telecom giant and pretty much everyone else in cyberspace. Or like Microsoft, it may simply become like every other big company as it grows. But that's not the way I'd bet. Google seems to have grasped the new century's most important business lesson: The capacity to evolve is the most important advantage of all.
Gossip and Rumor Container
Just because it's intended for the garden space doesn't mean you have to play by the rules.
Williamsburg blue with cream lettering.
Hand-crafted of enameled metal.
14"H x 15.5"W x 9.75"D.
Lid and scoop included.
Those zany Brits — what will they think of next?
Double Bell Atomic Alarm Clock
From the website:
- Double Bell Atomic Alarm Clock
That old desk clock that once woke us older folks has had a face-lift.
Set it once to your time zone and it will keep perfect time without winding or setting.
When the loud double-bell alarm rings it won't stop until you turn it off or hit the snooze button so even the deepest sleeper is sure to wake up.
Its charming face really has been improved: the numbers are very large and a bold black against the clock's white face for better visibility.
Numbers measures between 1/4 and 1/2 inch high.
This updated nostalgic clock makes a great gift for Mom or Dad.
Uses one C battery (not included).