Week 35: Virality, Freemium, Bitcoin & Asteroids

Stanford GSB Sloan Study Notes, Week 5 (35), Spring quarter

Could be that my future co-alumni will look back at this week from the future as historic: the school came out to the public with news that there will be no more Sloan Program. The competition for the title of the Best Sloan Class Ever (est 1958) will finally be over – as us in the 2013 cohort will remain the Last Sloan Class Ever. The program itself will of course live stronger than ever, getting a fresh rebrand as Stanford MSx Program for Experienced Leaders.

Meanwhile, the academic life of T-7 week carried on, busy as usual. I realize the four keywords picked for the title sound a bit buzzwordy – but there was some solid content behind each. Read the notes below, and also check out the long-overdue video of my LOWKeynotes speech from the Winter Quarter if you happened to miss it.

Covered in this issue:

  • Calculating social influence in marketing and building funcional teams
  • Calculating effects of advertising spend on demand
  • Designing Call Centers and measuring process quality
  • Do freemium products need selling?
  • Exit dilemmas of Hotmail
  • Managing media crises and firing firends
  • Being realistic, but curious about Bitcoin
  • Founding stories of Twitter and Square
  • Mapping out all asteroids in space around us
  • Guests: Jack Dorsey of Twitter/Square, Sujay Jaswa of Dropbox, astronauts and folks from Clearwire, DFJ, Lightspeed Ventures

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Weeks 18-20: Innovation Economy, Debate Blunders and Creative Computing

Stanford GSB Sloan Study Notes, Week 8-10 (18-20), Autumn quarter

Not to worry, despite of the three week scope in title this is not a monster-length post. Between a lovely wedding, an unexpected funeral and Thanksgiving break in between my focus has temporarily shifted a bit away from school as this quarter concludes. Do enjoy the little there is to share below – and as special gift to reader A.M., yes there are more videos.

Marc & Bill

A notable off campus educational highlight  last week ago was an event at A16Z where  William Janeway (being interviewed by Marc Andreessen on the photo above) discussed his book Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Markets, Speculation and the State. Combining his 40 years in venture capital with a PhD in Economics, Bill has great insights into when, how and where governments should play any role financing tech innovation and where progress should be left for markets. And as a curious subtopic – the need for an occasional bubbles in the latter case.

Covered further in this issue:

  • How to avoid small groups polarizing towards extremes in debate
    • Kõrvalmärkusena Eesti lugejaile: jah, teadus teemal Reformierakond VS Väike Grupp!
  • Centralization VS distribution of control in global organizations
  • More history of Presidential candidates screwing up in public
  • Financial ratios and common size reports in accounting
  • Effective networking tips’n’tricks exchange with Sloan classmates
  • How computing changes human bodies and the definitions of creativity
  • How big internet players have changed hardware IP value chain

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As We Speak: Reading Notes

The below are reading notes of some good old truths, new aha-s and pro tips from a pretty good concise communications guidebook called As We Speak: How to Make Your Point and Make it Stick by Peter Meyers and Shann Nix. Mostly focussed on public speaking, especially to larger audiences – but touches upon other topics as well, such as small meeting settings, managing crisis communications, using comms & presentation technology and structuring 1:1 tough conversations.

The book was assigned as reading for a brief reflection essay in the Generative Leadership class at Stanford, but I would (and have already) recommended it as a no-brainer purchase for any manager to hand out to people on their team who need a little comms help. They’ll get through it in a few hours and be grateful for the few very tangible things they can implement the same day.

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Week 17: Economists Designing Orgs, Ethos of Problem-Making and Sick Bush in Japan

Stanford GSB Sloan Study Notes, Week 7 (17), Autumn quarter

This week will go down in history as the one that finally saw the portfolio of profiles of every single Fellow of the Stanford Sloans class of 2013 hit the public interwebs. Please meet my lovely class in its diversity, internationally and otherwise.

On other news, Americans re-elected Obama for their President (aka POTUS – didn’t know that one before) on Tuesday, which in the fair state of California sounded more like a sign of relief. And I, in turn, spent far too much time on Estonian blogs, chats and Facebook threads, tracking an insane sequence of judgement lapses by some party politics leaders back home. Between these two parallel world, I could not have had a better week to start a new class, Political Communications: How Leaders Become Leaders taught by a very experienced practitioner in the field, David Demarest.

Covered in this issue:

  • Why calling taxes “revenue enhancement” works
  • Why globalization and CxO executive titles should be taken less for granted than people think
  • How the classic forms of political communications, a speech and a debate, are constructed by the best
  • How 20-30 year old experimental art tends to turn into everyday products eventually
  • Necessary evils around good old software development: intangible assets, intellectual property, patents

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Week 8: Eating Dogs, Price Meddling and Whitegoods

Stanford GSB Sloan Study Notes, Week 8, Summer quarter

Pages assigned for reading: ~135

This was also a week of Strategy Beyond Markets exam (24 hours to answer ~10 questions in “hopefully less than” 3 hours and 16 pages; took me 5h and 10 pages -we’ll see…), a very inspiring guest speaker session with Phil Libin of Evernote (with a surprising amount of cultural parallels to early-days Skype) and series of visiting friends on campus, with Ott actually surviving an entire Microeconomics class (photo courtesy of another guest, Silver):

Usual format of study notes follow, with maybe more than usual further reading / viewing links in the end.

GSBGEN259 – Ethics (prof Krehbiel)

  • Four less-than-adequate, yet popular basic theories for right conduct:
    • Ethical egoism: an act is right when it best promotes the individual’s long-term self-interest
      • Challenge: a murderer and resisting victim are both morally right and neither could be judged
    • Ethical relativism: right and wrong are a function of the moral teachings of a particular society
      • Challenge: based deeply on tolerance (an universal moral value), yet it followed through, would require one to also tolerate a deeply intolerant society militantly enforcing its values on another society. E.g no external judging of genocide if it is considered right by one side?
    • Religious/Revealed Ethics: ethical guidance and instruction derived of a particular religious tradition and sacred texts
      • Challenges: diversity of religious disciplines. Virtually no sacred scripture or teaching is self-explanatory and needs interpretation (independent rational basis of judgement). A statement that a God is “just and loving” is based on… the ordinary human meanings of these terms (infinite loop if right is defined as the “will of God”?)
      • Most religious/revealed ethics are a superset of, and thus largely compatible with secular/rational ethics (e.g most condemn violence, theft, dishonesty, etc)
    • Right as conscience alone: right defined by “internal dictate” alone, with nothing more said
      • Challenge: personal moral judgement should a reflective and reasoned act, seeking to understand and decide weather a course of action is right or wrong. Isolation and lack of dialogue make “conscience” an impenetrable back box anyone can use to justify any conduct.
      • Read the rest of this entry »

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PR 2.0 and Brandless Marketing

My academic (albeit brief) and professional encounters with public relations and communication theory in a broader sense occasionally have left an itching about the image of that field itself. Transparent, targeted communications and some really smart people who know how to make it happen are often overshadowed by the common associations to long-legged blondes from beauty pageants and talking black into white.

I am very happy that Daniel has taken some holiday time to ponder about the topic:

Once I met a British colleague at a dinner table who said that he would like to do the “real thing” from time to time, “not just PR, because PR is about painting things”. I felt both sorry for him and angry because this is what most people think of PR. Our profession is flooded with too many persons who have built their careers on polishing what they or their clients “seem to be” and not developing what they “really are”. As many of them will not be able to reorient themselves towards different kind of professionalism, they will continue dragging the industry to the depths of disrespect.

I couldn’t agree more with (almost all of) his views on status quo and way forward.

Besides the communications consultancy story, he is also observing an interesting trend from the product marketing world. Some of the most desirable objects you own (or still lust for) don’t carry a logo any more. A product becomes the brand. If this alone doesn’t change the communication requirements, I don’t know what does.