Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

Believing Why – The Behavior of Inspiring Leaders

Simon Sinek presented his theory on the power behind the greatest leaders in the world, past and present. This brief presentation can literally change the way you look at the highest achievers in the world today.

Essentially the idea is rationalized into three parts. Why, how, and what.

Sinek emphasizes that the most successful leaders and innovators “inspire action” by doing things that make other people believe in what they are doing. His thoughts are focused on the common theme of attracting people to believe in your thoughts and ideals. When you attract people who have a common belief, they begin to join you because they are attracted to why you are doing something, not what you are doing.

The easiest example he demonstrates with this theory is Apple:

Apple believes in making great user experiences. Apple makes great user experiences by building products with exceptional design. The products that they happen to make best are computers.

Towards the end of Sinek’s presentation, he makes note on why it is important to do things on the basis of persuading other people to believe what you believe. He explains the benefits of “starting with why” by showing the Law of Diffusion of Innovation:

First 2.5% of population:  Innovators

Next 13.5%:  Early Adopters

Next 34%:  Early Majority

Next 34%:  Late Majority

Final 16%:  Laggards

The difference between ideas that change the world and ideas that are simple fads is the 15-18% tipping point. After this tipping point, it’s highly likely that the mainstream adoption will occur, and greater than 80% of the mass market will at least accept the idea.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Watch it in your next twenty minutes free!


04 2011

Opportunity in an Artificial Age

Happy new year! Welcome to 2011, this year the tools and services we use on the internet will enrich our lives in ways we didn’t know were possible only a few short years ago. The strength and power of computers has grown significantly over the past decade. The internet has grown to dominate the personal and professional lives of those who use it regularly. Growing in parallel with this technological revolution is the perception that human intelligence is less robust than artificial intelligence. I strongly believe that opportunities for innovation on the internet lie in the human sphere.

The notion of artificial intelligence is hardly new but it has also rarely been implemented successfully online. The primary manifestation of the failure of artificial intelligence on the internet has been its lack of widespread adoption. A few companies, notably Pandora and Netflix, have struggled to produce an accurate and profitable customer recommendation system through the use of artificial intelligence. Just think how many times ‘Sex and the City 4’ has appeared in your Netflix recommended box. The old proverb, “Man must be smarter than the tools he operates” stands true. Merely gathering more data has failed to make computers more compatible with our emotionally-driven lives.

Mark Zuckerberg spoke at the Y-Combinator Startup School 2010 about our limited knowledge of the human brain. As he explained, medical research has yet to uncover the many mysteries of human thought processes. For example, doctors have only speculated on the origins of our dreams and their possible influences on our thoughts. If we humans are not truly aware of what causes the thoughts in our head and the decisions we make, how can we expect a computer to predict the outcomes of equivalent thoughts and reactions? Consider a dating site; how can computers match us with an ideal spouse when we do not truly know how or what we find attractive? We do not yet have the answer to that question. Instead, I feel that we should ask how the internet can meet, not simply interpret, the needs of an interconnected global population. One area in particular that has yet to be exploited is education. In the age of widespread communication through internet connections, video technology can be leveraged to teach knowledge-based courses online and empower internet users in the earliest stages of their academic careers. By taking an alternative approach to the implementation of technology, modern educators can use the internet to improve the quality and distribution of education.

Now you may ask: Where could I possibly be going with all of this, especially if your aim is to create disruptive technology? Essentially, I feel that there is an abundance of opportunity to meet the needs of an interconnected population. Even among the established industries, there are opportunities for disruption that even the smartest computers could not identify. The next generation of the web will require future-focused disruptors with an entrepreneurial drive to build relevant and useful technology. By encouraging entrepreneurship through the sciences in high school and college, students will be more adept to take on the challenge of advancing the capabilities of technology.

Also published on HunSchool.TV. Edited by David Merfield.


01 2011

Artificial Intelligence Leads Web Innovation

Over the past couple years a few select companies have been extremely successful because of their ability to develop a revolutionary artificial intelligence tool that improves our quality of life. Why? The startups that have developed these smart applications are revolutionizing their industry, they are innovating new technology that thinks like we humans do, except only better. Algorithms developed by startups with substantial AI applications have proven to be very popular, because they only get smarter overtime, making better decisions from our behavior.

Who are these startups that lead innovation within their industries?


Animoto is revolutionizing cinematic artificial intelligence. Their product thinks and acts like a movie director and editor. No movie sideshow is ever the same.


Pandora creates a custom individual music station catered to each users music preferences. Their algorithms allow for the best passive music listening experience.


In case you haven’t seen the news over the past two years, Netflix just finished a contest with a $1 million prize for the team that could improve their AI based movie recommendation tool for their customers.

clickable claims to have the smartest PPC management tool anywhere. Their tool makes recommendations for your PPC campaigns, so you can attain a larger ROI from your PPC advertisements.

Then of course, with the good, their is always bad. Many scientists have begun to worry that machines will soon be able to outsmart humans, and eventually take advantage of us. While this is likely not an immediate concern, scientists are proposing that research be stopped, so that humans will always have control over computers. Checkout this New York Times article.

Also, largely unseen to consumers, internet advertising is extremely sophisticated now when it comes to targeting. Many advertising networks now allow major corporations to enable targeting to a specific demographic; and then re-targeting based on a users actions if they did or did not buy the advertisement offer.

In the short term internet companies that are funding research and development for their AI products will succeed at having the most innovative, and likely most profitable product in their industry. Not to mention the value proposition against competitors is a major advantage to have in their industry.


08 2009

Time Magazine Article On Twitter

First of all, if you aren’t reading Fred Wilson’s blog (one of the most successful venture capitalists in the world, partner in Union Square Ventures) then you are really missing out on the insights from a man who knows the territory very well.

Anyway,  he posted a quote in his blog about a week ago on an article about Twitter changing the way we live, from Time magazine.

When we talk about innovation and global competitiveness, we tend to fall back on the easy metric of patents and Ph.D.s. It turns out the U.S. share of both has been in steady decline since peaking in the early ’70s. (In 1970, more than 50% of the world’s graduate degrees in science and engineering were issued by U.S. universities.) Since the mid-’80s, a long progression of doomsayers have warned that our declining market share in the patents-and-Ph.D.s business augurs dark times for American innovation. The specific threats have changed. It was the Japanese who would destroy us in the ’80s; now it’s China and India.

But what actually happened to American innovation during that period? We came up with America Online, Netscape, Amazon, Google, Blogger, Wikipedia, Craigslist, TiVo, Netflix, eBay, the iPod and iPhone, Xbox, Facebook and Twitter itself. Sure, we didn’t build the Prius or the Wii, but if you measure global innovation in terms of actual lifestyle-changing hit products and not just grad students, the U.S. has been lapping the field for the past 20 years.

Think back 10 years, and think of the ways that products in America have changed the way you live. We are innovators, no longer inventors.

Wilson also did a recent interview on the current trends on the internet, and what he expects to see in 2010:

Fred Wilson – Venture Capitalist Speaks On Future Web Trends


06 2009

Idea Sharing: Who Is Doing It Right?

Over the past year, user generated feedback to companies big and small has really taken off. Why are so many companies adopting this new system of feedback on their websites? These feedback forums spark innovation. It’s simple, customers get what they want, and companies become more efficient. However, it is important to note the relationship between company and customer here is essential. Companies need these feedback ideas to stay ahead of the game. Plus, customers want to see their ideas implemented so they can be more productive. The best part is that this whole relationship is completely transparent.

Who is doing idea and feedback sharing right?



They are using a custom service from Brightidea, Inc. that allows Adobe users to collaborate and decide which innovative ideas they like best.

Whole Foods


Based off the service from Get Satisfaction, like the name says, everyone is satisfied! Whole Foods gains valuable insight from their shoppers.



Somewhat similar to Whole Foods, TweetDeck is using UserVoice. The best part is that UserVoice is being the most innovative!



I don’t have much experience with this one, but it is an awesome tool to gain feedback from all areas on your site.

Are you letting your customers give feedback that will allow your company to be innovative, and drive business to the next level?


04 2009

Innovation Within Internet Marketing

I was inspired to write this post after a recent talk with the MediaTrust CEO Peter Bordes about innovation within the internet marketing industry.

Online advertising spending is projected to reach $25.7 billion in 2009, and $42 billion by 2013. A 78% increase over 2008’s $23.6 billion in online spending.( For an industry that is growing at astonishing rates, most of the companies that are heavily profiting have not put much back into researching and devloping new tools to capitalize on this growth in the coming years. To all affiliates out there, please name 3 recently released tools that allow you to be more productive, your campaigns to be more efficient, and ulitmately more profitable. Not so easy, huh? This lack of innovation will only hurt affiliates in the future. This is because the few networks that are investing in developing better ways to market online now, will blow past competition when growth slows. The affiliates who are associated with the networks that are investing in the right places will benefit tremendously, no doubt.

There are a few reasons for a lack of innovation by both affiliate networks and advertising networks. First, a lot of affiliate networks don’t care because there isn’t a lot of competition, and today they are growing strong. Their antiquated tracking systems work, and affiliates continue to promote their hot offers, which not to mention always “higher payouts than anyone else”. Secondly, advertising networks keep seeing gross clicks and impressions increase as the web is used more and more. So, advertisers will have cheaper rates and the publishers will make more and more money. In other words, the mentalitly of the affiliate and advertising networks is that people will continue to go where the money is. That’s definitly not a sound long term business strategy.

So, the question is which people are setting the right example and more importantly, are setting themselves up for strong business in the future? Most certainly Advaliant/MediaTrust, Motive Interactive, and Wes Mahler/Prosper202. Both Advaliant and Motive posses the leading affiliate interfaces that will soon posses algorithims to match offers with an affiliates past history promoting other offers, and maximize the relationship between affiliates and advertisers. Wes Mahler is worthy of being thanked by every single successful affiliate today, thanks to his opensource PPC tracking system Prosper202.

On the flip side, the companies that are lacking in the innovation department (among others): MaxBounty, and almost all networks using DirectTrack. Take a look at MaxBounty’s homepage, when I applied at first I thought  I was in the wrong site. Their site is straight out of the dot com bust. Seriously, would you feel safe putting your PPC budget into very technology developed 9 years ago?  Remeber that’s like 100 internet years. To the networks using the DirectTrack interface, great, you are making lots of money. However, DirectTrack serverly limits the amount of customization in the affiliate interface. Not good when it comes to 2010 and several other netowrks have more powerful tracking sytems and limitless opportunities to help out affiliates even more. Props to Ads4Dough for initiating their own switch over to their own custom tracking platform.

So, to the affiliate networks out there, take the hint, you will be ahead of the competition down the road if you invest now. As for the advertising networks, first make an effort to be friendly with some of your biggest spenders, then innovate. Watchout in the coming months for industry leading changes by Advaliant. They are brewing up some pretty neat features for affiliates, not seen anywhere else.


03 2009