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ChangeThis vindicated

One of the most controversial ChangeThis manifestos in my neighborhood is: ChangeThis :: Kill Your Children. Lackey says that juice and Coke are killing our kids.

Today’s Associated Press confirms: MSNBC – Sweet drinks tied to kids’ weight gain.

Cost of Hard Drive Space

As this spectacularly well-researched and useful chart (Link: Cost of Hard Drive Space) shows, a 3 gig hard drive was $3000 in 1995, not in 2002 as I mentioned below.

I blame my error on the fact that I made up the statistic below without checking first. I may be sloppy, but I’m not dishonest. Refunds available by request.

So, what will it take to succeed?

If it’s not money or brilliant programming (see below) what will characterize the success of tomorrow’s Net?

1. Relentless execution. This is far and away the winner. Persistence and focus and consistency. We saw how this worked for Amazon and we saw how getting distracted hurt AOL and others. It’s far more important today, because markets at rest tend to stay at rest. Changing the market is hard.

2. Resistance to compromise. Because you can do so much, so fast using tools, and because it’s easy for non-experts to chime in, the temptation is to go for the middle, to compromise, to be all things. It’s the  Purple Cow thing again…

3. What you don’t do. This is a little bit like #2. Go take a look at an Amazon page. Now you can do a web search, search inside the book, order it new, order it used, on and on and on. The temptation is to do everything you can do (it might work for Amazon, but it’s not going to work for you!) The very best new Net companies understand in their heart and soul what they WON’T do.

4. Desire to be three steps ahead. One step is easy. One step isn’t enough. If you’re only one step ahead, you’ll get creamed before you launch. Two steps is tempting. Two steps means that everyone understands what you’re up to when you pitch them. Two steps means that you can get funded in no time. Two steps is a problem. It’s a problem because the smart guys are three steps ahead. They’re the groundbreakers and the pathfinders. They’re the ones inventing the next generation. It’s harder to sell, harder to build and harder to get your mother-in-law to understand, but that’s what’s worth building.

5. Doing something worth doing. Hey, nobody is going to switch to your service because you worked hard on it. Being a little better is worthless.

6. Connecting people to people. Over and over again, that’s what lasts online. Folks thought it was about technology and it’s not.

7. Monetizing from the first moment. Google without Adwords is worthless. So Adwords are built in to the experience. Not, "hey, we have to do this because otherwise we’ll go out of business" but "this actually makes the service better." Given how cheap most online services are to build and run, you can’t charge money if the only reason you’re charging is to make a profit. Charging adds friction and selectivity. If those two elements are a drag on your service, you will fail. Hotmail’s founders missed this point. Banner ads made hotmail worse, not better, and because they didn’t build useful ads into the service from the start, they never could.

8. Not depending on a big, hairy partner. Sure it would be great if you could be on Yahoo’s home page every day, or built into blogger or featured on Fox every night. But it would be great if you won the lottery, too. That’s a wish, not a plan.

9. Ignoring the pundits. Including me. If I’m so smart, why don’t I go build your business?

10. Keeping promises. Even though the Net is here and it’s real, that doesn’t mean that the laws of business have been suspended forever. And those two words capture the best of what we’ve learned for four hundred years. Do what you say you’re going to do and the rest is a lot easier.

Why this “Internet thing” is just starting

Yes, it’s only been ten years.

And despite our memories of the crash of 2000, here are ten reasons why I believe that there’s about to be a significant flourishing of Net companies and business successes, not to mention extremely cool things for the rest of us:*

1. Penetration. There are 50 times as many people using the Net as there were then. 50x is a multiple you don’t see every day.

2. Bandwidth. It’s easy to forget how horrible modem surfing was. The prevalence of high bandwidth connectivity means that surfing is far more natural, more frequent and that the experience is better as well.

3. Tools. You can launch most any online service with almost no custom programming. Changethis.com demonstrated to me how straightforward this has become. It also means that finding the world’s greatest programmer is no longer a critical component for most services.

4. Servers. When google can offer a gig of storage for free, it’s proof that server space is essentially free. You may recall that just three ten years ago, a one three gig hard drive cost $3000.

5. Wifi. The next generation of wifi will be faster, but more important, have a vastly improved range. Which means, for example, that all of downtown Philadelphia will offer free wifi. With ubiquity will come cheap machines that dramatically increase the number of surfers, and put those surfers most everywhere.

6. Multimedia. The web is still stuck in ASCII world, but not for long. Add a few million video cameras, fifty million cell phone cameras, every song ever recorded, every TV show and movie ever made and the contents of most any scholarly book and it gets interesting fast. Sure, the lunkheads at the RIAA and MPAA will make up lies to try to stop it, but the cosmic jukebox meets the realtime surveillance camera is going to happen.

7. Grandmothers. It is no longer necessary to explain to the average American (of any generation) what this "Internet thing" is. Google has made the world safe for entrepreneurs. Don’t underestimate how important this is.

8. Teenagers. The Yahoo generation is now getting driver’s licenses!! These are kids who have grown up without encyclopedias or videocassettes or lps. These are kids who have completely and permanently integrated the Net into their lives and are about to go to work and to college.

9. VC. Fred Wilson (Link: A VC.) has more than a hundred million dollars to invest in great Net companies. So do a dozen or more other (less talented) venture capitalists. Given that it takes far less money today (see #10 and #3) than ever, this means the search for money is not the challenge.

10. The death of TV. (It wouldn’t be a Seth Godin post if I didn’t mention the death of TV, would it?) You know what killed the first crop of stupid $100 million Internet consumer service startups? Advertising. They all believed that they need to spend millions to build a brand.  Today, we’ve got proof–every single (no exceptions!) Internet success is a success because of Unleashing the ideavirus. It’s not TV ads. It’s word of mouse.

[*Hyperbole alert: forgive me, please, if I’ve used too many absolutes. No, servers and bandwidth aren’t free. No, TV isn’t totally dead. It’s all part of projecting a few steps ahead. But you already knew that…]

Special Super Bowl Post (Blink)

How is it that every single year, the NFL manages to hype the most boring football game of the year to everyone, even the national section of the New York Times?
At least Malcolm Gladwell figured out how to get in on it: ESPN.com: Page 2 – Interview: Malcolm Gladwell.

The two best things about this interview are:
1. it sounds just like a conversation with Malcolm sounds. Which is a good thing.
2. he says the Bills are his team. I had no idea.

Thanks to Marc for the link.

Amazon and Coffee

Announcing Amazon Prime
Amazon just announced that you can pay $79 and get a year’s worth of superfast shipping in exchange. For anyone buying more than a few items a month, it’s a no brainer.

But this has nothing to do with saving money on shipping and everything to do with Amazon’s innate understanding of human nature. Once you buy in, every single time you buy something from any other store (online or off) you’ll say to yourself, "ouch, I can’t buy this here. I’ll be wasting the money I spent at Amazon."

I love the idea that you can pay a lump sum and get a discount going forward.

The Soy Luck Club, my favorite place in New York, just announced the breakfast club. Pay $40 or so and you get breakfast every day for a month. "Grab and go" it’s called. If Vivian sells 100 memberships, it’s a home run. With $4000, she can certainly buy a lot of whole wheat bagels and grapefruit, and she ends up creating a cadre of super loyal customers. Best of all, she starts finding products for her customers instead of finding customers for her products.

Imagine a new chain of cafes that offers a coffee club. For a flat fee, you get all the wifi and lattes you can handle. With the markup on both, the owner does great, and people would feel terrible every time they strayed.

They say to ignore sunk costs. People are terrible at that, though.

How does a company with SOUL respond to a mistake?

Carl Richards points to a letter from Boden about how one company deals with a mistake:

Link: TelosWorks: How does a company with SOUL respond to a mistake?.

Last chance for my seminar

My whiteboard seminar is 2/16/05. This is the only scheduled small seminar I’ve announced. There are just a few seats available.

You can find all the details by clicking this link: Seminars.

I hope you can make it. See you there.

I don’t get it

Maybe I’m not supposed to.

Do they make lubricant for eyeglasses?


Link: Dove.com.

the Purple Hotel

Steve points me Tom’s blog–about a (pun intended) Purple Hotel.  tompeters! leadership training development project management.