Monthly Archives: October 2012

OCTOBER 2012 // FUTURE OF WORK EDITION // ISSUE 45

STATE OF AMERICA

From Work/Life Balance To Work+Life Fit – The top reasons working Americans stay with their current employers are work+life fit and enjoying the work that they do. This was ahead of benefits, pay and lack of other job opportunities. When people refer to work+life fit, they refer to working differently and more flexibly. The shift away from balance to fit comes as more people prioritize their lives in context to work so that what matters to them personally and professionally can both happen on a regular basis. This has happened because the workplace has transformed radically over the past two decades. There are now few physical and time boundaries between work and people’s personal lives. People are willing to work very hard when required, however, they might want to work from home or come into the the office earlier or later than traditional hours. This open prioritization of both work and life acknowledges a new workplace reality.

Via FastCompany

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

Older Entrepreneurs Lead the Way  – While young pioneers such as Facebook’s 28-year-old founder, Mark Zuckerberg, represent the usual media image of modern entrepreneurs, the reality is that these innovators are now more likely to be aged 50-plus. A key demographic trend identified in a study into US entrepreneurs by the Kauffman Foundation highlighted the increasing prominence of entrepreneurs aged 55 to 64. This group represented 14.3% of new entrepreneurs in 1996, whereas it represented 20.9% of new entrepreneurs in 2011. An example: Mac Lewis, who co-founded FieldSolutions in 2007 at the age of 60 after 14 years with IBM. When Lewis was in his late 50s, he became an early stage/angel investor. Lewis found investing to be a good way to give back, but he said that “being an investor was less active and didn’t get the adrenaline flowing.” As an experienced entrepreneur, Lewis has not only the years of experience, he has lived through the evolution of many new companies.

Via Kauffman.org

SMART BRANDS

AOL Reinvents Email- The way we use email has changed dramatically in the past decade-plus. But David Temkin, AOL’s SVP of Mail & Mobile, argues that email clients haven’t kept up with the changes – with the last major innovation coming in 2004 when Gmail launched. The company isn’t just bolting on some new features to the existing AOL Mail product. Instead, it’s launching an entirely new webmail client called Alto. Alto looks like a mashup of Gmail, Twitter and Pinterest, with incoming mail showing up in a vertical feed along the left side of the page. The right two-thirds of the window is dominated by rows of tiles called “stacks.” These are the source of the platform’s unique look, as well as its innovative functionality. The stacks update dynamically and work continuously, automatically sorting incoming messages, which also appear in your main feed, into five default groupings: daily deals, social notifications, retail, photos, and attachments. These piles reflect the most common categories of email received and the fact that even in the Facebook era, email remains the de facto beast of burden for photos and attachments. Alto uses a visual search to display the content being delivered: Click on the photos or attachments stack and you get an instant array of thumbnails displaying its contents–no searching or opening of messages required. Users can also create custom stacks for subjects like travel, work projects, or family by setting simple rules for sorting by sender, domain, or keywords. By sifting through bulk mail, you end up with the things that really matter in your inbox.

Via TechCrunch

BRIGHT IDEAS

Forget Business School, MBAers Go To Design School – Stanford University’s d.school-the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design-has gained recognition in recent years for introducing the problem-solving concept known as “design thinking” to executives. Design thinking uses close, almost anthropological observation of people to gain insight into problems that may not be articulated yet. Traditionally, companies have relied on focus groups to get feedback on products that were already in development. With design thinking, potential solutions are modeled, then tested and quickly adjusted based on user feedback. Designed to ignite creativity and collaboration, the d.school’s interior looks like a preschool playroom for grown-ups. The school said much of the lay out is for the sake of teamwork. Organizations are taking note. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, game co.Electronic Arts, JetBlue Airways and the software firms SAP and Intuit have worked closely with the school, acting as test cases for courses or posting job openings on d.school boards. Procter & Gamble, Google, Nike, and Fidelity Investments are recruiting heavily for students with a design-thinking background. Given corporate interest, other schools are adding integrated business and design offerings.

 Via WSJ

ON THE RADAR

Try This Platform: Props To You is a project management platform that leverages gamification incentives to get team members to complete real-world tasks in exchange for points and prizes. It builds off the idea that people are more engaged and productive when achievements and teamwork are recognized and celebrated. The platform also provides useful management tools for team leaders to track employee progress, skills and development goals.

Try This Site: If you are looking to move to a new career, start a company, or enhance your current job skills, PivotPlanet may be the solution you’ve been looking for. The site helps connect experts working in hundreds of fields with people looking to pivot their careers. Advisors offer affordable one-on-one mentoring sessions via video conferences conducted on Skype, FaceTime or another method of choice. Mentoring rates vary but can be as low as $50.

Read This: Econovation is a trends book written by entrepreneur, futurist and Fortune 100 innovator Steve Faktor. Faktor points out that we’re moving from consumerism to a producer-driven economy. As a result, the work place is changing dramatically and business leaders who want to keep up will find value in the book’s tips on how to encourage sustainable innovations for the future by tapping into the the new office culture’s proclivity for connectivity, entertainment and fame.

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OCTOBER 2012 // CONNECTED CONSUMER EDITION // ISSUE 44

STATE OF AMERICA

In Tough Times, Americans Reward Themselves By Connecting – While a weak economy caused most consumers to cut back on non-essentials it also helped them continue to spend on devices that helped them connect with others. Thanks to the recession, people were not getting a new home in April 2010 (housing values were 30 % below their April 2006 peak) or a new car (sales were down 21% from April 2008), but that did not prevent Americans from continuing to spend on technology. When the iPad was released in April of 2010, no one thought a purchase of a gadget with a base price of $500 could be justified in the middle of a recession. Yet in the past two and a half years, Apple has sold more than 34 million iPads in the U.S. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, households spent less on food, entertainment, apparel, and other categories from 2007 to 2011. Meanwhile, spending on communication devices rose more than 10% during the same period. It turns out that even in the face of scarcity, innovation and connection is a powerful attractor.

Via Business Week

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

The Connected Protagonist –

The fusion of the social economy and the digital communications world has created an environment from which a new generation of consumer known as the Connected Protagonist has emerged. Connected Protagonists are aggressive consumers who have an arsenal of content and communications tools that give them the unprecedented ability to bend their world to their wants and needs. These consumers are always on and technology functions

as their sixth sense. Because they see themselves as the leading man/woman in their own epic narrative, they have a role of protagonist in their own lives. This attribute has been inherent in humans ever since we gained consciousness, but the fusion with hyperconnectivity has fundamentally changed the game. Their lives now have an audience, and social platforms are their stage. Their content – the activities they participate in, the knowledge they have, the connections they make and the things that entertain them – shapes their personal story arc and defines who they are and how they are perceived by the world. As a result, Connected Protagonists’ curated content is far from arbitrary. Their “story” is as well-crafted, defined and guarded as that of the brands that try to reach them with messages about what cars to buy or what detergent to use. Brands must understand that the dynamic of “brand to audience” has shifted to “brand to Connected Protagonist to audience.” The role brands play has changed from star to supporting actor, but by playing a real part in the story of people’s lives brands can provide true value.

Via AdWeek

SMART BRANDS

Mercedes Turns Viewers Into Creatives In Real Time – Advertising is getting increasingly real-time as well as more interactive. A new Mercedes campaign, targeting younger consumers, took this idea a step further. Two 60-second spots airing on consecutive commercial breaks during X Factor laid out a story about a musician and his sidekick racing to get to a secret gig. Viewers were invited to suggest the outcome of the scenario by tweeting their opinions with the hashtag #YOUDRIVE. The next night, a 90-second ad aired that included footage from the first two spots, plus the ending selected by viewers. The ads also directed viewers to a YouTube channel where they could view alternate endings and create a customized version of the spot. Rather than inserting themselves into the social thread, Mercedes fueled the social conversations by putting the viewers in the driver’s seat, literally.

Via JWT

BRIGHT IDEAS

Betabrand Turns Customers Into Models – Betabrand, the online clothier known for cult fashion hits like Codarounds, Bike to Work Pants and Caperons, gives customers a chance to be instant models on Betabrand.com no matter how good, bad, or outrageous their photos might be. Unlike other companies with online fan photo galleries, Betabrand actually turns customer photos into the site’s principal product images. To become Model Citizens, customers simply upload their photos to the site where they instantly get a unique product-page URL that makes their photo appear to be the lead model shot on the homepage. They can share with friends, family, and anyone else they want to impress beyond belief. Friends ask, “How in the world did you end up modeling for a clothing company?” And so the social-commerce conversation begins. Each of these photos have invited an average of 20 Facebook friends to take a look and 1 in 10 Model Citizen photos generate a trackable order from a new customer. According to founder Chris Lindland , “So many people send in shots of themselves in Betabrand products, we invented a way to turn them into our site’s superstars.”

Via Betabrand.com

ON THE RADAR

Read This: Today’s connected consumers are better informed and harder to please, and because of social networks they also leave a more visible evidence trail of their opinions. The Connected Customer: The Changing Nature of Consumer and Business Markets is a collection of essays by thought-leaders in the field of marketing and beyond that deals with the growing importance of connectivity. This book offers refreshing ideas for businesses currently reconsidering how to connect with consumers that are increasingly seeking to play a more participative role in their relationship with brands.

Watch This: Ragu’s “A Long Day Of Childhood” campaign highlights the awkward moments of growing up and hopes to remind viewers of how much comfort their favorite brands provided all those years ago. The campaign encourages customers to submit photos of their awkward youths which Ragu then uses to create relateable YouTube videos that celebrate the anxiety-riddled moments of growing up. Check out an example of one of the videos here.

Try This Site: American Express Unstaged is a concert series that pairs artists with a well-known director. Last month The Killers performed in NYC and said they wanted “the whole world on stage” with them. Fans submitted photos of themselves holding up signs saying where they live and filmmaker Werner Herzog directed the concert live stream which displayed the photos on big screens throughout the concert. Fans from all over the world were able to contribute to the experience and feel like they were “on stage” with the band. Check out The Killers’ Face To Face site to see fan submissions and highlights from the concert.

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OCTOBER 2012 // ISSUE 43

STATE OF AMERICA

Temping Is The New Normal – Whether employees like it or not, America’s workforce landscape is changing – edging away from the era of the full-time, salaried workers and closer to a freelance-and-full-time mix of staffers. A study from the human resources services firm Randstad says “contingent” workers are becoming a fact of life at U.S. companies, edging out full-time workers in the process. Workers aren’t exactly fighting, says the Atlanta-based firm, and in fact many contract employees are finding a higher job satisfaction than they did in their full-time, salaried days. Specifically, 78% of temporary and contract workers surveyed rated their experience as “positive,” and 54% of contract workers said they strongly agree with the statement “I am paid what I am worth,” compared with 42% of salaried workers. 

     

Via Learnvest.com

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

More Adults Read Young Adult Fiction Than Young Adults –

Young Adult (YA) fiction may be aimed at 12- to 17-year-olds, but guess what? Tweens and teens aren’t the only ones reading it, not by a long shot. According to a Bowker Market Research study, 55% of YA readers are age 18 or older, while 30- to 44-year-olds comprise the lion’s share of YA e-book buyers. And no, they’re not buying all that YA fiction for their kids or younger siblings. 78% of adult readers purchase YA titles for themselves. And the plot thickens. Who loves good old-fashioned books the most? Hint: Their hair’s not gray. 60% of teens read YA books the old-fashioned way-in print, while older consumers are driving YA e-book sales. Ending their longtime reign as kings of print, Boomers’ share of book purchases dropped from 30% in 2010 to 25% in 2011. In a near mirror-image swap, Millennials buying print surged from 24% to 30%, according to the 2012 US Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Review

 

Via Bowker.com

SMART BRANDS

Oreo’s Daily Twist campaign – 

At 100 years old, Kraft Foods’ Oreo seems younger than ever. As part of Oreo’s centennial celebration, the brand kicked off it’s celebration in March with it’s “History” print campaign, which enlisted the cookie to depict historical milestones. That effort showed the cookie’s historic relevance while “Twist” contemporized it in the context of current events. The brand’s “Daily Twist” campaign has made the cream-stuffed sandwich a social-media darling and sometime daredevil. It kicked off June 25 with a polarizing image of the cookie, septuple-stuffed with rainbow filling to celebrate Gay Pride Month — a bold move for a brand that topped $2 billion in revenue last year. Since then, we’ve seen a Shark Week Oreo, a Mars Rover Oreo and a tribute to panda Shin-Shin’s newborn cub — just a handful of 100 iterations that rolled out daily through October. For the final day (Oct. 2nd) of its 100-day campaign driven largely through Facebook, Oreo had installed a one-room ad agency in Times Square so it could take suggestions from the public and debut the final “Daily Twist” image on a digital billboard in New York City.

 

Via Nabsico

BRIGHT IDEAS

Rejection Fuels Creativity  – Are you always the last person picked for a team? When you watched Office Space, did you feel a special kinship to the stapler-obsessed Milton? If you answered yes to any of these questions, do not despair. Researchers at Johns Hopkins and Cornell have recently found that the socially rejected might also be society’s most creatively powerful people. It found that people who have a strong independent mind thrive creatively in the face of rejection. “We were inspired by the stories of highly creative individuals like Steve Jobs and Lady Gaga,” says the study’s lead author, Hopkins professor Sharon Kim. “And we wanted to find a silver lining in all the popular press about bullying. There are benefits to being different.”    

 

Via Fast Company

ON THE RADAR

Follow This: #FirstWorldProblems is a popular Twitter hashtag where well-fed people complain about non-problems. The First World Problems Anthem by DDB New York and nonprofit organization WATERisLIFE is an effort to turn the ironic hashtag into a humanitarian campaign. Over 1 million people have viewed the 60-second spot which features Haitian orphans reading actual tweets. DDB has been tweeting the video to original hashtag authors and encouraging them to take action against real problems by donating towards clean water solutions.    

 

Watch This: Facebook recently announced that it has reached its billion-user milestone. To celebrate, the social network has partnered with Wieden & Kennedy to create its first major TV ad which honors its users by highlighting meaningful ways people connect and come together. Watch it here.

Try This Site: WorldCam is a search engine that helps people find the latest Instagram photos from around the world with pinpoint accuracy. It’s a great example of how excessive photo-sharing can become a useful resource. Google’s Street View only allows you to see exteriors of buildings, but Worldcam enables people to see inside public buildings since photos come from Instagram feeds that have been tagged at that location. Do you want to know what the inside of the Apple headquarters looks like or what someone in that building might be having for lunch? WorldCam might be able to help you. 

 

OCTOBER 2012 // ISSUE 42

STATE OF AMERICA

Women Dominate Pop Culture – If last year marked genuine breakthrough for women in comedy, then a new breed of female hero owns 2012. The baddest, bravest superhero this Summer wasn’t a man in a suit of iron. It was 6 yr. old Hushpuppy in indie sensation Beasts of the Southern Wild. “I gotta take care of mine,” she says at one point, which neatly sums up the driving motivation of devoted big sister Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. In the Pixar hit Brave, Princess Merida is more concerned with her own self-interest which refreshingly does not include finding true love. There seems to be a legitimate shift in how pop culture serves and represents women. “The more women on screen, the more people are going to see their choices, their hopes, their dreams, their sense of humor reflected back at them,” says 2 Broke Girls creator Michael Patrick King. No better evidence of this is the next big buddy-cop comedy The Heat starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy instead of the typical two male leads.

Via USA Today

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

Young People More Financially Responsible Than Parents – As older Americans lose jobs, lose homes and delay retirement, their children are watching and reacting. Growing numbers of young Americans are boosting savings, cutting spending and planning for retirement. Many people in their 20s and 30s while struggling with debt, low income and unemployment are still managing to be financially responsible. Young adults are now saving more and starting earlier than people their age used to, according to several broad measures. Of employees under age 25, 44% participated in their companies’ 401(k) retirement plans in 2011, up from just 27% in 2003, according to Vanguard Group Inc. While they still face serious student debts, young people also have cut back on credit-card debt. The under-35 group was the only age group that saw average credit-card balances fall. Ernst & Young, which gives financial-planning services to employees of many large companies, said inquiries from younger employees were up. “Friends of mine in our 20s, we joke that there isn’t going to be any Social Security when we get old enough to collect,” said Sean McGroarty, a DJ. “But it isn’t really a joke. What are we going to do after we retire?”

Via WSJ

SMART BRANDS

Target’s Shoppable Film –

Target is releasing an episodic series of short films starring Kristen Bell, Nia Long and Zachary Abel where everything on-screen is for sale. The company unveiled the three episodes of “Falling for You” last week. The occasion was the first public viewing – in its entirety – of the 12-minute romantic comedy directed by Emmy-winning director Phil Abraham and featuring in nearly every frame some 110 Target-exclusive items from clothing to pencil holders to chairs. The items can also be seen scrolling up the right edge of the screen, where they can be purchased or shared via social media. The plot of “Falling for You,” involves two Target employees (played by Bell and Abel) who pitch competing ideas for the retailer’s fall fashion campaign to their boss (played by Long). The first installment of “Falling,” went live on Target’s website on Oct. 2, with consecutive episodes posted on Oct. 4 and 9. Story-wise, those webisodes lead into a Web-streamed live event scheduled for Oct. 10 in New York City that Target will use to launch its fall fashion campaign. “It’s a very exciting concept,” Kristen Bell said. “It felt very fluid. A lot of it is just showing things in their natural habitat. I felt like it was more natural than a product-placement situation on a film set.”

Via Target

BRIGHT IDEAS

Living In A Social Era – If the industrial era was about building things, the social era is about connecting things, people and ideas. Networks of connected people with shared interests and goals create ways that can produce returns for any company that serves their needs. Things we once considered opposing forces–doing right by people and delivering results, collaborating and keeping focus, having a social purpose and making money–are really not in opposition. New business models have formed to adapt to these forces and thrive in this social era as organizations realize they no longer create value all by themselves. In these new business models, organizations have let go at the top, forsaking proprietary claims and avoiding hierarchy to gain agility and flexibility. They’ve also sacrificed short-term payoffs for long-term prosperity. They’ve recognized “doing work” no longer requires a badge and a title within a centralized organization. Anyone–without pre-approval or vetting or criteria–will create and contribute making this process essential to finding solutions to new problems. More and more companies have embraced consumers as “co-creation” partners in their innovation efforts, instead of as buyers at the end of a value chain. Adaptability has been central to how organizations and people thrive in this social era. So listen, learn and adapt.

Via Fast Company

ON THE RADAR

Try This App: The Social Radio is an app that uses text-to-speech technology to let you listen to tweets and Facebook status updates while you listen to the music you love. This app is especially useful for people driving on the road who a) want to keep their eyes on the road and b) find it clunky to continuously switch between a music app and a social app like Twitter. Download this app and listen to your Twitter timeline, trending topics, and funny hashtags turn into a beautifully mixed audio-experience.

Read This Book: Disney Publishing, a unit of the Walt Disney Company, recently released a digital book for the iPad titled “Frankenweenie: An Electrifying Book,” a making-of look at Tim Burton’s upcoming feature. The e-book, which is free on Apple’s iBookstore, contains original art and production photos, music and video interviews. Disney Publishing is exploring opportunities to update the e-book’s content over time, which has the potential of turning Frankenweenie  into a never-ending story.

Try This Search:Adding to the fun and games already hidden within its search box, Google‘s newest addition is a tool that makes it easier to play “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” Just type in “bacon number” followed by your thespian of choice, and the first result will be the degrees of separation between that person and Kevin Bacon.  Not only is Bacon Number a fun tool, but it also demonstrates the promises of a piece of Google search technology called the Knowledge Graph. It is a database that maps facts and how different people, places and things relate to one another.