Monday, February 25, 2008

Social Entrepreneurs at Stanford - Sun 2/24/08

The Center for Social Innovation at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Stanford Digital Vision Fellowship Program (sponsored by the Reuters Foundation) cohosted Social Entrepreneurship Day on Sunday, February 24, at the Wallenberg Learning Theatre from 3-5 PM.

[Photo is from a photo album by Tatyana Kanzaveli (LinkedIn, Facebook), CEO, Global Learning Foundation]

Kriss Deiglmeier, Executive Director for the Center for Social Innovation (CSI) at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, introduces the panelists.

Kriss was Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Juma Ventures, Director of Operations at Larkin Street Youth Center, and worked at the United Way of King County.

She has presented nationally and internationally on topics including asset development, social enterprise, and public private partnerships.

[Photo is from a photo album by Tatyana Kanzaveli]

John Kuner's ProjectView Blog has a great summary of the panelists' talks and summarizes their advice for prospective social entrepreneurs.

(1) Jenny Shilling Stein, Executive Director of the Draper Richards Foundation

(2) Jessica Jackley Flannery, Co-Founder and Director of Business Development of

(3) Amy Clark, Ashoka, Global Fellows Program Leader

(4) Suzanne McKechnie Klahr, Ashoka Fellow and Founder of BUILD

Stanford Digital Vision Fellows Class of 2007

Greg Wolff, president of UnaMesa Association, "an open association of people dedicated to improving the tools and information that help educators, healthcare providers, and communities around the world deliver better services with fewer costs. The organization functions as a virtual research and development lab with projects focused on creating practical solutions to problems, such as sharing medical records, that cut across individual services." (UnaMesa Wiki)

International Education and Resource Network (iEARN) is the world's largest non-profit global network that enables teachers and youth to use the Internet and other technologies to collaborate on projects that enhance learning and make a difference in the world.

Shashank Garg is developing an open-source, sustainable, and efficient disease surveillance system that will detect and respond to outbreaks in a timely manner. This system will utilize a mobile device to accurately collect data, validate it at the source, and immediately transmit it to a server where resident experts can identify trends and make informed decisions.

Garg won India’s Dewang Mehta Award for Innovation in Information Technology for being one of the seven co-developers of the Simputer.

Adam Tolnay runs the Y-Fi (Youth Financial Literacy) program, which aims to communicate the basics of personal financial management to youth in marginal areas via the use of fun, interactive, multi-player, multiple-turn simulation games delivered on mobile devices.

Adam will be working with inner city high school students in the U.S. to design and pilot Yi-Fi before rolling it out in his native Romania and his adopted homeland, India.

He has run educational programs in 14 countries - Learning Enterprises , The Learning Foundation India, The Educated Consumer Project

The "Ahimsa Center for Social Equity" proposes a 3-step support mechanism of "AWAKE" (Raise Awareness), "ARISE" (Build Capacity), and "ALIVE" (Investment) to provide a wider net and Ecosystem for entrepreneurs and communities involved in Social Issues.

Netika Raval has been developing a "Big Game" on water issues for children that will be relevant, interactive, useful for geo-spatial learning.

A byproduct of this game will be the collection of reliable, people centered information that will be accessible via a GIS map and community call centers. The objective is to track the resulting reduced dropout rates in 900,000 government schools, as well as to reduce the time and cost of information access for government and people.

Ahmad Atif Mumtaz leads Tele-Health-Care for Disaster Relief.

Whenever a major disaster hits a region, the basic infrastructure, including healthcare facilities, are severely damaged. Atif proposes to develop rapidly deployable and portable tele-health facilities in disaster hit areas so doctors can start treating patients quickly.

Ahmad Atif Mumtaz (LinkedIn) is a Pakistani entrepreneur promoting ICT technologies in the developing countries. Mr. Mumtaz has previously worked with social development organizations, including COMSATS and United Nations IDO.

In 2002, Mr. Mumtaz successfully launched an Internet startup, Cogilent Solutions which currently manages and runs the largest job hunt portal in Pakistan called, BrightSpyre. In 2004, he received the "Young Entrepreneur of the Year" Award for his services through Shell Corporation

Marvin Hall uses robotics competitions to capture the imagination of at-risk youth in inner cities in small, developing countries.

Marvin is the founder of the Halls of Learning robotics training center, has provided scholarships for 150 youth to attend his robotics courses, and has brought a Jamaican robotic team to an international competition. Go Marvin!

He has been improving the math, science, and creative thinking skills of youth in the United States for more than a decade.

John Kuner of smiling at the camera. Perhaps I'll be on one of his mobile stories? :-)

In this project, camera phones are used to create and share personal stories. Young people from various cultures learn more about each other as they connect with their counterparts in an online community. They also gain skills through the story creation process, such as communications, editing, and production.

His powerpoint presentation on "Mobile Storytelling and Video Sharing for Inter-Cultural Communication: How Personal Expression Leads to Job Skills".

Neerja Raman's Blog is called Digital Provide: From Good to Gold

Neerja Raman is a former Director, Strategic Planning and Imaging Systems Lab, Hewlett Packard Labs. She was inducted into the prestigious Hall of Fame, Women in Technology International (WITI).

She pioneered corporate recognition of diversity as a business value, and acquired skills to successfully navigate the pitfalls of being the only female in high pressure environments.

Lessons from her upbringing in India are articulated in a management book “The Practice and Philosophy of Decision Making: A Seven Step Spiritual Guide.” It was featured at the authors' expo "Books that Empower Women" by WITI.

Neerja has been a United Way Chair at HP. She serves on the advisory board of Maitri, a women’s self empowerment organization, is a member of the Indian Business and Professional Women support network, and is executive director of Indian American Women Empowered (IWE).

Invincibelle blog is a "community blog where experts share columns and articles in categories like business entrepreneurship, culture and communication," of which Neerja Raman is one of the authors.

Steve Vosloo runs the "The Digital Hero Book Project." A hero book is a low-cost, simple and effective form of psychosocial support (PSS) where a child is the author, illustrator, main character (hero) and editor of a paper-based book that is designed to help them deal with life's challenges.

The Digital Hero Book Project (DHBP) builds on the success of this Memory Work by introducing information and communication technologies (ICTs) that enable authors to digitise their hero books and publish them on a community-based website.

HIV/Aids, poverty, violence and unemployment affect a large proportion of youth in Southern and Eastern Africa. An indication of this is an estimated orphan population of 12 million in 2001. To help address these issues, REPSSI (Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative) provides psychosocial (social and emotional) technical support to over 60 implementing partners, including those in the Western Cape province of South Africa (SA).

Cathy Healy was at National Geographic for 16 years. She was also editor of AMÉRICAS magazine, published by the Organization of American States.

Cathy has been a newspaper reporter, novelist, magazine and Intranet editor, and collaborates with Digital Vision fellows to help turn their projects a reality.

- Mitchell Tsai (Harvard '86) - CEO, Spiritual Business Companions : FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook

Bill Gates visit to Stanford - Tue 2/19/08

[Photo is by Megan McCarthy (or her photographer) at Wired]

Bill Gates showed a hilarious video clip imagining his upcoming last day in office. Wired said a similar video was shown at this year's CES, but this one had extra guest appearances - Venture Capitalist John Doerr and Berkshire Hathaway founder Warren Buffet.

He carefully avoided mentioning any competitors (Yahoo, Google, etc...) and even went his entire speech without saying the word "Internet" until an audience member used "Internet" in a question, instead emphasizing the impact of "software" on the world. Very old-school! Brought back memories...

I started on 1960s-era mainframes, and it is interesting to see when the "software" buzzword transitioned into "Internet"". When I graduated college in 1986, a lot of us were trying to make money by selling "software". Then came the 1991 easy-to-use browser which blended Hypercard, pictures, and ARPANET...and Poof! Al Gore's "Information Superhighway" buzzword turned into the "Internet".

The 3-D medical imaging demo was neat to see, but he basically pitched some of the ideas of his Microsoft Research teams. Very "PC" speech giving nothing "cool away". He's a great businessman!

He spent the last 1/4 of his talk on giving back to the world, and most of the Q & A session was focused on "doing good."

Hadn't seen Bill for 10 years since visiting his house in 1998, when he had awesome flat-screens on the walls displaying artwork. I've been out of "Tech", and concentrating on non-profits in arts, dance, and spirituality for the past 6 years.

It was good to see him in person again.

- Mitchell Tsai (Harvard '86) - CEO, Spiritual Business Companions : FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Finding Mentors: Leveraging your Business & Social Networks

With all the emphasis on Web 2.0 (2003-2008) Social Networks, it's surprising how people are shy about using their flesh-and-blood networks.

Here's a simple exercise I teach called
"Strategically Extending Your Network":
[Easy Version - 2 Steps]
(1) In each of the following 21 business areas, try listing the 1-2 people you admire the most. If you can't think of any that's ok.

Start with just 5 business areas - CEO, COO, CMO, CFO, CTO.

(2) Ask each person, who they would recommend as a mentor. I call this the "2nd-level ask". Don't ask them to be a mentor. Ask who THEIR mentors are and why they liked their mentor. It's a good time to hear their stories about what really helped them...

- Executive (CEO)
- Vision (CVO)
- Strategy (CSO)
- Risk (CRO)
- Innovation (CIO)
- Networking (CNO)
- Business Development
- Operations (COO)
- Finance (CFO)
- Marketing (CMO)
- Sales (CSO)
- Technology (CTO)
- Creative (CCO)
- Human Resources (Corporate Culture)
- Legal
- Fund-raising - Equity (Angel, VC, Investment Bank, Commercial Bank)
- Fund-raising - Non-Profit Development (CDO)
- Project Management
- Corporate Governance
- Board Members (Directors/Advisors)
- Entrepreneurs

[Medium Version]
Before you talk to the people on your list:

(3) Write down "why" you admire them? What makes your COO or VP of Operations friend, an operations person that you admire?

(3A) ....if you have no clue what an "operations" person does, this could be a could conversation to have...

(4) Do some research on each person before you talk to them. Google them and find a bio/resume, or look at their LinkedIn Resume & Connections. Find out which companies/organizations they worked for. Which schools did they attend? What are their interests in life?

(5) In each business area, list the 1-2 famous people you admire in each area.

(6) Do some research on each "famous person" and try to find connections with your friends. Any similar companies, schools, interests, etc...

[Hard Version]
(7) Sit down with your business partners and try to extend your networks as a group.
(8) Sit down with other experts and ...

This could potentially be a LOT of exploring.

Tip #1: For most busy people, 1 or 2 questions might be all you should start with....unless you find "traction" and they are finding it fun to share stories.

It's REALLY easy to get help, if you make it FUN, and help people feel like they are improving the world.

It's VERY difficult to get help, if you insist on telling the 15-minute version of your company mission. Especially if helping you is going to be like a trip to the dentist (Apologies to the nice dentists out there...) VALUE THEIR TIME... Don't waste it.

Tip #2: Ask specific questions! No open-ended stuff...

Don't ask "Which CEO's do you admire?"

Ask "How did you like Jack Welch's style as a CEO?"

"I really admire Person X who was XYZ position at your old company ABC. Did you like them as a person? I was looking for possible mentors, and was wondering if you could recommend them."

- Mitchell Tsai (Harvard '86) - CEO, Spiritual Business Companions : FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Imagine it! - Stanford 2007 Entrepreneur Week Competition

Saw a very inspirational video Imagine It! at Stanford's Entrepreneur Week (Fri 2/22/08 - Fri 2/29/08). If you're in the Stanford area, check out their other entrepreneurial events this week.

Richard Tavener, Executive Producer of iLoop Media, did a fantastic job making an edgy "fun" video with good camera angles on a lively, funny narrator.

In 2007, students from around the world had 5 days to "create value" from a "mystery item". Very creative solutions. Good way to learn about (1) team-building (2) rapid-prototyping (3) "doing something" and not getting stuck in the idea phase (4) dealing with limited time, money, and people (5) contacting professors and companies that people might be too shy to consider.

The mystery item for the 2008 competition is "RUBBER BANDS".

Stanford President, John Hennessy kicks off Stanford Entrepreneur Week.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Silicon Valley Managing Partner, Teresa Briggs talks about the consulting arm of Deloitte.

Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP) Executive Director Tina Seelig introduces the major events of Stanford Entrepreneur Week.

Tina Seelig (MS&E) is responsible for strategic planning, operations, and outreach efforts of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP), is Director of the Stanford Entrepreneurship Network (SEN), and is co-Director of the Mayfield Fellows program.

Tina teaches a Creativity and Innovation course (Material Science & Engineering 277), and writes the Creativity Rulz blog.

Some related websites she suggests are the Roundtable of Enterpreneurship Education (REE) Conferences and the Educators Corner.

- Mitchell Tsai (Harvard '86) - CEO, Spiritual Business Companions : FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Usable and Credible Websites: How to KEEP customers!

Web 1.0 (1991-2002): Many traditional companies don't understand web usability & credibility.

Companies succeed despite a poor website.  You can throw away 50% of your web customers and still succeed.  The web is not everything... (despite what some engineers think :-)

(A) (American Airlines) - Website works extremely poorly on low-speed wireless. How badly?
    My ticket purchases take 5-10 min (if they execute), and they often fail miserably.
    Result: I buy Continental tickets on low-speed connections. I use AA because of their free international upgrades, DESPITE their website.

(B) (Delta Airlines) - Website has NO on-line ticket hold.
    So if I need help on a on-line reservation, and call Delta, they can't view my reservation. I have to remake the entire reservation on the phone with poorly trained Indian phone reps.
    Result: I almost never buy Delta or United (which also has poorly-trained phone reps).

P.S. Well-trained Indian, Romanian, or foreign phone reps are great! We need to help our global comrades earn a living. Can you believe that 50% of Romainian college graduates can't find work, and their average wage is $100/month? No wonder $200-$450/month looks like a good job. However, when a simple order or question turns into a 30-90 min phone call, something's NOT working!

DISCLAIMER: I am an American Airlines Executive Platinum (EXP) and Continental Airlines Platinum flyer who flew 210,000 miles in 2006, but I am not paid by either airline (aside from the occasional "bump voucher" or reimbursement for lost luggage).

Personally, 95% of the time I use websites in the following 3 ways:
(1) "Web" as a calling card. I goto a website to checkout a person/company. Works like reading a resume.
   (A) You've got 5 seconds to catch my attention. I'm highly unlikely to scroll and/or click anything. If I like your website in the first 5 seconds, I may read further and click once or twice.

   (B) If I click once or twice, I probably already like you & think you're credible. Now, I'm hooked, but you can lose my support with poor service (e.g. can't find your phone number).

(2) "Web" as a place to buy a product. I want an easy, friendly, and quick process. Amazon is an amazing website for service. It remembers not only my info, but my friend's addresses for mailing presents, and has lovely recommendations of other books (although there's recommendation SPAM).

(3) Just looking for a phone number, address, and/or e-mail.  Often to give to a client/friend.  Amazing how many websites make this difficult!

How many customers are you losing?

Customer service is an inexpensive way to market your company!

(Of course, I read in a Google book about how they hid their contact info when they couldn't afford customer support...)

Guidelines for designing websites
There are times when you can "break these rules", but you should consciously know why you are breaking them.

See 2002 Stanford Web Credibility Survey - page 8 for a wonderful diagram of about 50 issues that raise/lower your website's credibility.

For example,
(1) "Linking to articles on external websites" raises credibility.
(2) "Being able to find a phone number" raises credibility.
(3) *.org names used to provide more credibility boost in 1999 than in 2002. Apparently by 2002, people on the web have learned that any fly-by-night can setup a non-profit or *.org site.

In BJ Fogg's 2002 book Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do, BJ makes the great observation that your engineers shouldn't be designing obscure error messages (which may help the tech guys).

Instead, they can work with a marketing or usability team to design friendly error messages which improve the user experience (and maybe some technical details which can be relayed to "tech support").

Consider your possible audience.  What will your "first impression" be when someone tries to view your website?
(A) 20-yr-old traveling in India at a low-bandwidth hostel terminal

(B) 40-yr-old Businessperson on a public airport terminal in Amsterdam (No pop-up windows, Flash version is old, No way to configure the machine)

(C) 50-yr-old with vision issues who has their browser font set +2 (larger fonts)

(D) Businessperson giving their client at the airport a web address for a business they're recommending.  On the client's laptop, the website complains that Javascript is required and doesn't display anything.  Am I going to modify any settings on my client's laptop to load Flash or active Javascript? Probably not!

(High security laptop from the IT department has NO Java, NO Javascript, NO Flash, and NO Cookies).

"First Impressions" - Getting to the first 800 x 600 page
   (a) Most people will not scroll or click on anything IF you make a poor first impression.
   (b) Give people a reason to scroll or click!
   (c) With every-click you lose people.

Suggestion 1: If you design for a 1024 x 768 screen, put critical items (About Us, Contact, Home) and catchy stuff (You're trying to get a customer...) in the upper-left 800 x 600 area (visible without scrolling).

(In 1991-98, we used to advise the upper-left 640 x 480, assuming that AOL was using up the top 1/3 of the screen.)

(1) Does your website run & look ok on the following systems?
     PC - Internet Explorer, Firefox
     Apple - Safari, Internet Explorer (the old version), Firefox
     Linux - Firefox
     Web 1.0 (defunct advice): Sun & Unix Flavors: X11 Mozilla, etc...
     Web 1.0 (defunct advice): PC/Apple - AOL browser
     Web 2.0: Mobile Phones, Palmtops
Web 1.0 (possibly defunct advice, but maybe relevant to mobiles): Lynx (text-only browser)

There are many websites which don't run at all on Apples. It's ok if that's your conscious decision to throw away a possible market.

(2) Does your website run in high-security environments?
Java and Javascript are turned OFF (No Flash), Cookies are NOT allowed, No popup windows.

Unfortunately due to heavy virus attacks, many places are moving to higher security conditions.

Many people do NOT have the latest version of Flash installed.
Do you want someone's first impression of your company to be "Have to load Flash 8"?

Suggestion: Design a non-Java, non-Javascript, non-Flash, non-Cookie version of your website (if possible), and automatically shift to it if you detect something missing.  You may give the user a link/button which invites them to use your fancy Java/Flash version. Yahoo! Mail uses this multi-level approach.

For Flash users:
Suggestion 1: Give people phone number, contact name, and address even if Flash doesn't load.
Suggestion 2: If your web server sees that Flash is not loaded/current, show a non-flash website.
Suggestion 3: Give people a link to bypass the Flash.
Suggestion 4: When loading Flash, show useful and interesting content which helps attract the viewer.

(3) Does your website run in low-bandwidth and/or flaky Internet conditions?
Always consider what will happen if the internet crashes.  Can the user find your telephone number or street address at the bottom of the home page, so that they can call you?  I'm assuming you still want their business when the internet is not working...  :-)

In the old days (1991-2000), we worried about dial-up speed in the US.  This is a minor issue now in the US, but it's still a huge problem when traveling internationally.

On American Airlines website in low-bandwidth conditions, it may take 5-10 min to TRY to purchase the ticket, and after the 5-10 minutes, the ticket purchase often won't complete.

This is especially bad when there's a weather condition which means that the airline's 800-numbers have 30-60 min wait times.

Suggestion:  Test your website on a 28.8k dialup connection and a slow wireless link (maybe one of the annoying public ones which display ads - the ad display mechanism in the MetroFi-Free in Sunnyvale, CA, makes some websites work improperly.)

(4) Is your website respectful of people with disabilities or lowered-abilities (age 50+ eyes, "carpal tunnel" wrist, etc...)?
(a) Low Vision - If someone increases the font size +3 on their computer, does all of your text expand equally?  Does the layout still look ok at font size +3?

Suggestion: Perhaps add some extra space in your layout, so that your presentation still looks reasonable when font sizes increase +1 or +2.  Font size +3 will probably not look as good, but you may look WAY better than your competition...

(i) Age 50+: Is your text readable in the natural (un-altered) website view?

There is a trade-off here. Sometimes a site looks more credible and professional in a smaller font - especially with serif fonts for the main text.   Serif fonts in the main text look very amateurish.

But a website with larger text (or text that scales properly at +1 to +3) will impress older people with vision issues.  That's the professional-look trade-off.

(ii) Sight-problems

(b) Hand Issues - Is your website navigable with a minimum of mouse-clicks (e.g. someone who uses the Tab/Enter buttons to navigate)?

How much mouse motion is required to navigate your website?

Lots of "carpal tunnel" people. My brother (visual effects industry) uses a foot mouse due to wrist tendonitis.

(c) Blind - Can the blind see your website? Useful also for speech-on-the-fly (for the future)

One of my friends, Patrick Burke, at UCLA was born totally blind (so he spends half of his life in jet lag), was studying for a graduate degree in German Literature, but he proof-reads websites for blind accessibility and helps other blind people read books & magazines (he slaps them on his scanner & e-mails them the words).

Computers for the blind are incredible...they last 1-2 weeks on a battery because they don't have to power a screen...

Patrick Burke, Coordinator, UCLA Disabilities and Computing Program

Check out UCLA's Accessibility efforts.

- Mitchell Tsai (Harvard '86) - CEO, Spiritual Business Companions : FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook

Google "Location": Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Web 2.0 (2002-2008): This post is a work-in-progress on how to fight for "location, location, location" on Google, Yahoo, and other search engines (Updated Sun 2/24/08 11:15 PM PT).

(1) Wikipedia has a good introduction to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which describes legal "white-hat" and illegal "black-hat" methods (such as "link farms", "keyword stuffing", "term SPAM", and "link SPAM").

(2) For actual SEO methods, Carsten's Search Engine Optimization (CEO) Resources is an excellent set of basic resources and links to other high-quality SEO websites written by Carsten Cumbrowski, author for the Search Engine Journal.

(3) SEO Book's Blog by Aaron Wall

Read Aaron's General Theory on SEO and the Web for the 18 comments (2 are quoted below). Aaron also has useful free SEO tools. "[His] book has been used as course text for MBA classes..." is #2,336 on Alexa (as of 2/24/08).

"Most for sale SEO tools are a waste of time and money because they push how useful they are even after the algorithms have evolved beyond their use. They cause people to focus on arbitrary goal sets instead of thinking about logical holistic marketing methods and social interaction."

"Success takes time. If you can afford it, sometimes buying an old site is a good way to start - especially if you are trying to compete in Google in a saturated market."

"Before the Christmas shopping season each of the last few year it seems Google rolled out a new algorithm that wacked many sites which SEO'ed their way to the top (IMHO via link trading and low quality linkage data). Most of the algorithm changes are related to looking at linkage quality, communities, and ways to trust sites. The most recent update seems to have (at least temorarily) dialed up the weighting on TrustRank or a similar technology, which has had the net effect of highly ranking many old/trusted/authoritative sites that may lack some query specific authority."

(4) Carsten Cumbrowksi's Website & Internet Marketing Resources

My Favorite SEO pages are:
(A) 101 Link Building Tips to Market Your Website by SEO Book

(B) Google's PageRank Explained by Phil Craven (better than Wikipedia article on PageRank)

(C) Spam Mass & Trust Rank, by SEO Book, summarizes 10 take-home ideas from the two 2004 & 2006 papers below.

Spam Mass & Trust Rank are two "link SPAM" detection methods that Google might be using beyond the basic PageRank algorithm.

(1) "Link Spam Detection Based on Mass Estimation" (2006) by Zoltan Gyongyi (Stanford CS), Hector Garcia-Molina (Stanford CS), Pavel Berkhin (formerly of Yahoo Research), and Jan Pedersen (Yahoo Research)

"...most hosts have very small PageRank: slightly more than 66.7 out of the 73.3 million (91.1%) have a scaled PageRank less than 2, that is, less than the double of the minimal PageRank score. At the other end of the spectrum, only about 64,000 hosts have PageRank scores that are at least 100-times larger than the minimal."

Of the 892 hosts (883,328 sites) analyzed, 25.7-36.8% were SPAM hosts.

(2) "Combating Web Spam with TrustRank" (2004 PDF) by Zoltan Gyongyi (Stanford CS), Hector Garcia-Molina (Stanford CS), and Jan Pedersen (Yahoo Research)

"...more than 18% of web sites are spam."

Based on these papers, distinguishing yourself from SPAM could become progressively more important in the next few years.

(D) Web Directories...are They Relevant to SEO? by SEO Book

Only and (maybe are quality directories.

"After DMOZ solved the general directory problem and Google solved the search problem no general directories were able to get many citations. That sorta shows the importance of market timing."

WARNING for web newbies: Be WARY of fly-by-nights and offers to get you to the "top of Google searches, guaranteed for $99".
(1) If two people or companies are fighting for the #1 place in search on "my industry keywords", only one will win. There's NO way to guarantee that you are #1.

(2) There's a lot of free advice to get you started. Read that stuff before you pay for expert advice.

(3) DON'T use cheapo techniques which will be detected in the next few years. "Black-hat" SEO techniques could be a lot like doping scandals at the Olympics. They can get your site BANNED from Google.

(4) Many companies pay $1,000s/day for Google Ads and actively fight for Google rankings. Some locations are cheap, and some are expensive. However, the playing-field is MORE level than ever for the small entrepreneur. You have a great chance at a good location (even if you can't afford a store on Rodeo Drive or 5th Avenue) because many of the big companies are still trying to figure out Web 1.0 (much less Web 2.0 & Web 3.0).

(5) This is a changing game. Google, Yahoo, and other search engines can change their formulas at any time.

- Mitchell Tsai (Harvard '86) - CEO, Spiritual Business Companions : FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Our society doesn't know how to "Create Wealth"...

I started reading a wonderful book, Planet India: The Turbulent Rise of the Largest Democracy and the Future of Our World by Mira Kamdar, 2008.

"Our biggest challenge is the challenge nobody has solved in the world - how to grow equity" - Mukesh Ambani, p.5

"Can liberal democracies forge a global market economy that is environmentally sustainable and reduces inequality?" - Mira Kamdar.

"The United States has failed to achieve this. While it has proven it's capacity to generate vast wealth, the so-called Washington consensus has achieved corporate interests over the welfare of average citizens and small businesses, exacerbated gaps between the affluent and the poor, and operated with stunning disregard for the environment. America's prosperity is dependent on overconsumption of the world's resources - with just 6 percent of the world's population, the United States consumes 30 percent of the earth's resources." - Mira Kamdar.

Quotes like this last one usually neglect to mention that the US's $14.5 trillion GDP [Financial Forecast Center] is roughly 29% of the $50 trillion world GDP [CIA Factbook], so consuming 30% of the resources matches our GDP productivity. Sometimes I'm really annoyed at how people play fast & loose with statistics to scare the public.

The book "toots India's horn" a little too often for my comfort. We can all tell that India's going through massive growth. And Mira provides lots of interesting stories from the real India of today.

Global wealth is currently $98 trillion [WSJ 2008], which is
(1) only 2 years worth of global production ($50 trillion - $66 trillion PPP [CIA Factbook])
(2) just $16,000/person.
(3) probably less than the global damage to natural wealth (fishes, animals, plants, oil, etc...)

If you have $2,200 in assets, you are in the richest half of the world's population. [Globe & Mail 2006]

Let's say we redistributed the wealth of the High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) with more than US $1 million (not counting their primary residence). Gap Gemini estimates HNWI wealth at $37.2 trillion [Cap Gemini 2007], which would give everyone an additional $6,000. Not much!

Bottom line, our society has not yet figured out how to CREATE wealth.

It's Mukesh Ambani's unsolved challenge of "how to create equity"!

Link to the text of Planet India p.5 in Google Books

[Financial Forecast Center] US GDP Forecast for Feb 2008 - Jul 2008
[WSJ 2008] "Global Wealth Gap Widens", Wall Street Journal, 10/3/07
[CIA Factbook] CIA The World Factbook
[Globe & Mail 2006] "The rich really do own the world", Estanislao Oziewicz, Globe & Mail, 12/6/06
[Cap Gemini 2007] Cap Gemini World Wealth Report 2007

- Mitchell Tsai (Harvard '86) - CEO, Spiritual Business Companions : FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook

Helping People's Visions Manifest into Reality with the 5 C's - Community, Connections, Coaching, Consulting, Capital