Archive for January, 2010

All Jacked Up

January 27th, 2010


There is something about the return of 24 and Jack Bauer to the scene that quickens my pulse and puts me in to full implementation throttle.  Enough planning. Time to act Jack.

The words of my friend Len Schlesinger, Babson College President, have stuck with me since he shared his story at BIF-5.  Len challenged us to reverse our normal tendencies and go from doing to knowing instead of from knowing to doing.  He is so right. We know more than enough to act.  We have more technology than we could ever absorb to enable action.  What we lack is the capacity or inclination to try more stuff.  It is time to take ideas off of the white board and get them on the ground.  We have big social challenges to address and it is time to put technology and purposeful networks to work solving them.  You know, little things like health care, education, and energy.  We will learn what works by going from doing to knowing. Read more

Happy Birthday Bubble Wrap

January 25th, 2010


If I had a dollar for every person I have driven crazy popping those addictive plastic bubbles…….. Today marks the fiftieth birthday of Bubble Wrap, the ubiquitous stress reducer disguised as a packaging cushion.  Did you know that this pop icon (pun intended) has over two million Facebook fans?  Did you also know that its inventors parlayed Bubble Wrap in to the juggernaut, Sealed Air Corporation, with over $4 billion in revenue operating in 52 countries?  My favorite part of the story is that the inventors didn’t set out to create packaging material at all.  Bubble Wrap is a classic innovation and unintended invention story.

Bubble Wrap provides us with an almost too good to be true invention story beginning as the movie script demands in a Hawthorne, NJ garage in 1957.  The narrative begins with two entrepreneurial-minded engineers, Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes, who set out to invent plastic wallpaper with a paper backing.  They thought there would be a market for plastic textured wallpaper.  Yuck.  Thank goodness there wasn’t.  Company legend has it that Chavannes came up with the idea for Bubble Wrap while coming home from a business trip and his plane was approaching the Newark Airport.  He was staring out the window on the descent and it seemed to him as if Newark was cushioned by the billowy clouds surrounding the city.  And you guessed it the rest as they say is history. Read more


January 13th, 2010


I was amused to learn that the show ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’ is doing away with the phone-a-friend lifeline.   There was Meredith Vieira with her big smile and syrupy voice explaining that the time had come to take away the lifeline that has been a staple since the beginning of the show because too many friends were using the internet (doing Google searches) to help the contestants.  No kidding.  Did the show’s producers just figure that out?  It was plain to see the progression from the early years of the show when contestants would call wicked smart people to today when they just call people that are really fast at doing on-line searches. What’s next, “ask the audience” to check their iPhones at the door of the studio?  Let’s face it lifelines are enabled by the web.  Should we just get used to it or is there something more important than a game show going on here reflecting on the state of human interaction. Read more

Clean As You Go

January 3rd, 2010

images13On New Year’s Eve I received one of those blast-from-the past emails, made possible by Google, from a long forgotten friend from high school days.   I hadn’t thought about the crew from an after school job 35 years ago at McDonalds forever. (Yes, you heard right, I flipped burgers at McDonalds)  The email moved me and provided a wonderful end-of-the-year gift because this friend had taken the time after all of these years to reach out and thank me for the positive influence I had on her life.  I had no idea that I had said these things and that my passion for mentoring extended all the way back to high school.

Here is an excerpt from the email.  Tell me you wouldn’t have been moved if this popped in to your in-basket on New Year’s Eve.

“Over the holidays I was with a bunch of friends and we were all talking about gratitude, and the fact that we are much more aware of all of the people who have touched our lives in positive ways along the way.

I mentioned that I have always wished I had run into you sometime as an adult so that I could tell you that you changed the entire course of my life when I was 18 and pretty directionless.  You told me that I was smart, too smart not to go to college. Read more