poelog: Commentary, thoughts and opinions on the web, ebusiness and marketing -- a web log by Rob Poel
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Tuesday, July 31, 2001

Just added Michael Lewis' latest book - Next: The Future Just Happened to my Amazon Wish List.

Monday, July 30, 2001

Sorry folks. When I said in my last post that the "beach wears me out" I wasn't kidding. I don't know if it was sun poisoning or a virus or something passed to me from the annoying black flies at the beach, but I was a wreck from Saturday afternoon until this morning. I had a POUNDING headache and everytime I tried to allieve the headache with either aspirin, tylenol, or advil, I'd vomit 30 minutes later. On Sunday I was so messed up I took a trip to the Metropolitan Hospital Emergency Room where they put an IV in me and pumped me full of fluids and medicines. Must have helped because I woke up the next day feeling 70-80% and now, after finally eating something for the first time in 48 hours, I feel like I'm ready to roll again. Should be back to blogging again tomorrow. See ya.

Friday, July 27, 2001

Spent the whole day at a friend's cottage in Holland, MI. Gorgeous day. But, man does the beach wear me out. I'll be in bed by 10pm at the latest.

Thursday, July 26, 2001

E-Commerce News: Sign-On Technology Could Spark New AOL-Microsoft Battle - More on the single-sign-on battle. Analysts see AOL's Screen Name Service as a direct competitor of Microsoft's Passport for single sign-ons, but think now that neither company will dominate.

This is great. I can especially appreciate it because I had several interviews at marchFIRST ... and a friend that is now a marchFIRST casualty. The new employee compensation plan for "first to go" and "valuable" employees is great ... and SO true (via Internet 3.0).

Nolin's been blogging about his dog's illness over the past few days. Some folks would say - "hey, Eric, shut-up and get back to talking about business and IT issues like you usually do." If he listened to those voices he'd be making a big mistake. The best bloggers are the ones that weave elements of their personal life into their blogs. Yeah, in the end, they have to have a stance on the particular topics and issues they've chosen to "cover" ... or as Jim Rome says: "Have a take, don't suck." But ... just as important as the stance / take / opinion ... a blogger needs to reveal their personality, their passions, their idiosyncrasies ... in their posts. Those that do will attract a loyal following. Eric, I hope Norman continues to get better.

Cam is complaining about the Bush tax rebate. His anti-Bush / anti-republican stance has become quite clear after reading his blog over the past few months. I voted for Bush and am proud to say I did. Cam is upset because the tax rebate is essentially an"advance payment" on this years tax credit. He labels it "sneaky accounting."That's a bunch of bunk. Whatever you label it Cam, it's $300 - $600 that you wouldn't have in your pocket if Gore had been elected. And you shouldn't be upset about an advance payment. Most folks prefer "pay me now" versus "pay me later."

Eugene may be on to something with his vision for a distributed single sign-on (SSO) system. Some of the ins-and-outs of the solution he describes is a bit over my head but the core premise - a distributed system (rather than a centralized system like Passport or AOL's Magic Carpet) is sound. In essence ... I, the user, want control over my single-sign-on rights rather than entrust the keys to that priviledge with a monster like AOL or Microsoft. (link via Talking Moose).

Wednesday, July 25, 2001

I think Google is a bit tempermental. Just 15 minutes after my post below I performed the speedle site tools search and the POELog search. The results: no results with links to the poelog.blogspot.com domain. If anyone understands why ... please let me know.

Ask and you shall receive. Or ... more accurately, complain and you shall receive. Just 5 days ago I lamented over not getting POELog indexed by Google. This evening, I checked out some of my referal sites and was surprised to see a visitor that came from a search for "Speedle site tools". POELog was the 12th result (2nd listing on the 2nd page). I then searched for "POELog" and lo and behold - 6 results!! Perhaps as Google continues to get bigger, it's becoming more and more like Yahoo in which site submissions take months before they make it through the system.

I'll say it now ... I just don't see this happening. I think Bezos has grander plans than being swallored by the AOL empire.

In Eric's latest ClickZ piece:Personalization: Mass Marketing in Disguise?, he returns to writing about the stuff I'm interested in (could it be I prefer Eric's ClickZ voice over his TDCRC voice? ... see prior post) and in the process makes a couple compelling points:

  • Mass marketing and personalization, up to this point, have focused on the who, what, when, where, and how of it all. By figuring out who someone was, what she was doing, when she was doing it, where she was doing it, and how she was doing it, marketing believed that it could broadcast its message with greater effectiveness and efficiency ... But these methods have all failed to ask a crucial question in their quest for selling: why?
  • ... answering the why requires that marketing abandon the message altogether, that we come to the table wanting to know what it is that you -- the buyer -- are really here for. It requires that we establish a process of interaction based on authenticity, trust, and openness. It requires that we be personal ... personalization is marketing reborn as interaction -- marketing without message.

    What's interesting as I read this last statement ... is that it directly contradicts my post yesterday that discussed Nick Usborne's article titled "It's Time to Invest in the Message." So ... which is it? What makes effective marketing? Personal interaction? Appropriate messages? Perhaps the key can be found in simultaneously achieving both.

  • Fool.com: Cisco's Crash - Is it possible for an investor to examine a company, see deteriorating fundamentals, but not really "see" what's going on? This article highlights why it is so difficult to sell a stock. I own Cisco, read the Fool articles' last year about its balooning receivables and inventory but didn't dare pull the trigger to sell the stock. Why? The eternally optimistic view that tomorrow is another day and the stock will recover. Hey, this is Cisco, I thought. This stock can't tank. It can and it did. If I could make the decision to sell a stock as easily as I do to buy a stock ... my portfolio would be in much better shape.

    Tuesday, July 24, 2001

    MarketingProfs.com: It's Time to Invest in the Message says Nick Usborne. Bloggers understand this ... many corporations, unfortunately, do not. Much of this can be traced back to the origins of the Web. In its early days the web was populated by technology geeks, scientists, etc and quickly joined by graphic designers and usability experts. Today ... the Web is still about technology. It's still about design and usability. It's about getting the messages out there - but it isn't about focusing on what those messages should be. Individuals ... through blogs, diaries, and online journals are beginning to focus on the content of those messages. The big question: how do those same individuals break through the walls put in place by their respective employer's investor relations and communications departments ... the branding guidelines and corporate vision and mission statement ... how does the corporation acquire a voice that speaks to me as an individual with a message I care about?

    E-Commerce News: Kmart, Wal-Mart Rein in E-tail Units - Coincidence? Retailers are absorbing their online units to try and better leverage the connections between the brick and the click while Amazon announces a slowing sales climate. Unless you're an eBay with gross margins approaching 90%, it's clear that retailers need a presence in both the physical and virtual worlds.

    Monday, July 23, 2001

    Thanks for the link elanceur. That's the 2nd referrer from France in a week. Je l'apprécie! The elanceur blog focuses on "communication, conversation, marketing, and the internet" .... a blog after my own heart.

    Read the Moose's Clue-trainish Marketing Manifesto. Well done. In fact ... I like it enough that I'll add the Moose to my list of Blogs of Note and begin visiting on a daily basis.

    It seems everyone is talking about the Talking Moose. Who is it? I have no idea but the debate over his/her identity is driving more and more traffic to the site. Definitely an effective marketing ploy.

    Friday, July 20, 2001

    ClickZ: X10: What Counts, Though You Might Not Like It - Interesting counter view on the controversial ad campaign from X10. Everything you read is about how annoying the ads are (I echo that opinion) but in this column, however, Declan Dunn, focuses on the results: a sell-through rate of 4.2% on 1.2 million people (in 1 month) at $79.99 a unit for a total of $4.3 million in revenue. Despite their obtrusive nature it's hard to argue with the results - especially if you're a no-name etailer with no brand recognition that can afford to have it's name dragged through the mud by internet publicists in exchange for money in the bank. That being said ... it's not an internet marketing campaign I'd recommend for a client ... but that's me.

    Drives me nuts! After multiple submissions I still can't get any results in a Google search for "POELog". Doesn't make any sense to me. It shows up in a search at altavista, lycos, and AllTheWeb. I guess I just need more sites linking to mine to so that the search engines show a higher popularity ranking because I have all the meta tags taken care of. I'll try the search again in a couple months and see if things have changed.

    Having long been a user of dictionary.com I was amused to find the ever-more helpful pseudodictionary.com in a post at shellen.com. Shellen used it to reference his highschool buddy who he remembers "being surrounded by many a fine betty back in the day."

    Surfed my way to Communication Arts Site-of-the-Week (SOW) for the first time in over a year. It took a little while to find because it's now housed under Design Interact, part of the Commarts Network. This week's SOW, Timbuk2, is quite well done - especially the Build A Bag Shockwave application which just rocks. In fact, it's one of the best functional uses of Shockwave I've seen in a long time. The site is just the kind of project the gang at Fusionary, my past employer, would love. Speaking of Fusionary ... it was cool to see that the SOW award we received for the Box still lives in the SOW archives.

    Salon.com: Revenge of the file-sharing masses! The music industry just doesn't get it. Little do they realize that by crushing Napster they opened a Pandora's box of alternative-Napster troubles that they won't be able to stop. It didn't have to be this way, of course. The music industry has had the opportunity for several years now to begin offering reasonably priced access to comprehensive catalogs of digital music across the Internet, sweetened with special premium additions for fans willing to pay even more. Such a service could satisfy the hunger of millions of people for ready access to new and old music while preserving a reasonable income for the artists who make that music. If the consumer wants something ... they'll find a way to get it. It's unbelievable that the music industry hasn't come up with a way to service this market.

    E-Commerce News: Google Wins Big at Webby Awards - In addition to Google, other favorite sites of mine such as Yahoo! Finance, and the Motley Fool also came away winners.

    Internet 3.0 etc. - a new blog on the scene. Thanks for the link S.G. and congratulations on the upcoming wedding.

    Thursday, July 19, 2001

    Jordan's Return-o-Meter - Jordan says he'll decide in September whether or not he's going to make a return to the NBA. Here's hoping he does.

    eBay's 2nd quarter financial results exceed expectations again. You have to love this company's business model.

    Pretty cool "visual teaming" tool provided by EQuill. Olivier Travers, over at Web Voice uses the tool to "mark-up" or make annotations on web pages to highlight certain design or content issues that he'd like to comment on. And best of all ... it's free.

    Business 2.0: The New Corporate Structure -- Unstructured - Thanks to technology and innovation, the lines separating what's inside a company and what's outside are becoming a lot more fluid. (via bBlog ... a source I'm relying on more and more lately for pertinent articles).

    ITworld.com - Economic value added: A better measure of finances? My bonus will soon be based on company-wide EVA so it's time I understand it. As Peter Drucker states in a Harvard Business Review article, "Until a business returns a profit that is greater than its cost of capital, it operates at a loss. Never mind that it pays taxes as if it had a genuine profit. The enterprise still returns less to the economy than it devours in resources…Until then it does not create wealth; it destroys it." EVA, according to Stern Stewart & Co., the pioneers of EVA, "corrects this error by explicitly recognizing that when managers employ capital they must pay for it, just as if it were a wage."

    Amazon.com Introduces e-Documents Store - it's through initiatives such as this that Amazon will be able to improve upon it's retailer-like low, gross margins. As other ecommerce outfits fold and as Amazon continues to innovate, it's slowly realizing its vision to become the place to go to buy anything and everything.

    Wednesday, July 18, 2001

    Steelcase, my employer, has just come out with its inaugural issue of 360 - Revolutions at Work, a magazine (with a corresponding web site) targeted to the niche audience of "creators and managers of physical work environments." According to the opening message ... these people, are in fact "transforming the ways people work." Consider it a Fast Company for the Architecture and Design community with ads from only one company - Steelcase. Although I'm not sure it's something that will be around 3-5 years from now, and taking a guess at the outrageous amount of money we spent to produce this gives me the shakes (especially during these tough economic conditions), I do give our company credit for creatively trying to reach and influence an extremely important audience in our market.

    Tuesday, July 17, 2001

    E-Commerce News: Day the World's Best Dot-Com Died - Against the blur of dot-com disasters and above the noise of perfect-hindsight pundits, Webvan's closure stands out from all the rest. The company was, after all, the world's best Internet shopping service. The article made an interesting point: Webvan never tried to raise its prices. Did the company conduct a single survey to find out whether customers would be willing to pay what it truly cost to deliver world-class service? Had Webvan done so, the outcome might have been different.

    Business 2.0: 23 Incredibly Easy Steps to Make the Perfect e-Business. Very high level but still a good overview of all the components necessary to run a major ebusiness. And I say "major" because if you wanted every one of the components included in the article you'd need a healthy amount of funding to make it happen (via bBlog).

    Monday, July 16, 2001

    NY Times.com: Faking It: The Internet Revolution Has Nothing to Do With the Nasdaq. Long but great story. Some key themes ... knowledge is power ... AskMe.com ... pancakes versus pyramids ... power to the people. At the heart of the story: a 15 year old boy that becomes the #1 ranked expert in AskMe.com's Criminal Law category. Who ever said it's who you know and not what you know? (via ScriptingNews)

    WebTechniques: A Solid Intranet in Eight Steps - Because intranets have become commonplace, it's easy to assume they're well designed and usable. Unfortunately, most intranets have grown undirected and unchecked, like weeds in a garden. (via Camworld).

    Spent an hour on Saturday morning playing with Apple's iMovie software again. On Friday night we had had a joint birthday party for my son Tyler (turned 2 on 7/10) and his cousin Sam. Earlier in the day a package arrived for Tyler from Amazon from my brother, Brian, and his wife, Christa. It was the Little People Fun Sounds Garage and my son absolutely loved it. It quickly became his new favorite toy. Since Brian and Christa were unable to attend Tyler's birthday party (they live in Seattle) I created a movie of Tyler playing with the toy they bought him and uploaded it to my Yahoo! Briefcase for them to view. 24 hours after having received the package in the mail my brother and his wife could enjoy watching Tyler play with the toy they bought him ... even though they live on the other side of the country. Now that's cool. Note: For those without a fat pipe - beware - the .mov file is 3.6MB.

    Friday, July 13, 2001

    The redesigned Business 2.0 site is now online. Boy, right from the first pixels you can see the AOL influence. It kinda drives me nuts to have the Netscape toolbar follow me from page-to-page. I'm curious to get the first revamped issue, slated for August 6.

    ITworld.com: XML: Three letters that every CIO should know - The hype behind XML has been unbelievable. It's good to hear it described for what it really is: XML is a set of rules for taking your data and encoding it in chunks of text, which you can easily send across the Net and unpack at the receiving end. (via bBlog).

    Businessman gives struggling waitress $11,000 tip - It's good to know things like this don't just happen in the movies.

    TDCRC: Full Court Esoteric - I've been enjoying Eric's TDCRC missives less and less lately. In my opinion, he's beginning to take his message to the extreme edge (which I realize is what he's trying to do). In fact, in today's post, Locke berated him because he's still *gaining* subscribers, man. I think he's fighting a losing battle. On one hand he's trying to preach his message and gain a following ... but he wants it to be a small, loyal following consisting of the right group of people that "get it." In doing so, however, he also wants to have his audience avoid getting caught up in "the movement" -- joining something, becoming an ideological pawn. If he made the cover of Time magazine he'd declare his efforts ineffective ... he'd be labeled a sell-out by his core audience (kinda like when REM went from the alternative, college band to the pop, loved-by-the-masses mainstream group). On the other hand, if he only had two subscribers to his newsletter, no one would be there to soak up and adhere to what he was preaching. I "get" his message but I'm beginning to get sick of reading hip-hop lyrics. I understand Eminem has "voice" ... I'd prefer it, however, if you began helping me to practically apply that to my job as a marketer in a large corporation who lacks that voice.

    Thursday, July 12, 2001

    ClickZ: Make Room for Teoma - Just as consolidation seemed inevitable in the search engine space, new player Teoma has stepped up with an impressive debut. Opened to the public last month, it provides relevant results but also presents different views of the information. The web is amazing. Just when you think a market or space is locked up someone else comes along with a new twist on an old idea and disrupts everything. Ya gotta love it.

    The Standard: More Employers Monitoring Workers' E-Mail, Web Use - I understand the reason this is happening ... but ... I worry about the implementation. Employers need to understand that the line between work and home is blurring. If I work a 10 hour day and decide to head to Amazon.com for 15 minutes to buy my son a gift there better not be a note recorded in my employee log. The bottom line at any company should be: am I meeting or exceeding my job responsibilities ... not ... have I ever browsed the web for non-work purposes while at the office. The article suggests ... Employees should also be able to see, review and append comments to the logs and reports that have been kept by employers on their e-mail and Internet activities, the study said. I totally agree with this but doubt that you'll find many employers allowing this.

    The Internet Stock Report - Two points worthy of note from this daily report:
    1) One of the truly great corporate streaks came to an end yesterday. Emerson (NYSE:EMR) ended its record of 43 years of uninterrupted growth with an earnings warning. A stunning development from one of the most consistent performers in stock market history. That's an unbelievable streak! The company has grown through 6 recessions! It's another piece of evidence that this slowdown is for real.
    2) As reported in the article: ... these continuing shenanigans with "pro forma" earnings are starting to get downright silly. Both Microsoft and Yahoo! focus on their pro forma earnings rather than their earnings as recognized by GAAP accounting. I understand as an investor that 1 time occurances are less important than recurring items but a majority of these companies have different 1x occurances EVERY quarter. Microsoft lossed a whopping $3.9 billion on bad investments!! You know they wouldn't be focusing on pro-forma if that was a $3.9 billion gain from investments.

    ClickZ : The Beginning of the End of CTR? - CBS Marketwatch recently announced that it would no longer provider click-through-rate (CTR) reports to advertisers unless the reports were specifically requested. Instead, they'll provide "brand-based performance metrics" (whatever that means) and work with advertisers on a campaign-by-campaign basis to determine what "success" means. Overall I think this is a positive move as it will hopefully lead to media companies trying to align with advertiser's goals rather than deliver the highest CTR. While at iBelieve.com the CTR was only a partial measure of success. The TRUE measure of a campaign was the cost-per-action (action could be registration, purchase, etc.). This entailed "closing the loop" with our advertising and is really the best way to measure the success of a campaign.

    Wednesday, July 11, 2001

    Business 2.0: All Things Must Pass - But as a friend of mine in the M&A business says, there are no mergers, only acquisitions, and this sale has proven to be just that ... For business reasons, AOL Time Warner is bringing over only three of the 50-plus member editorial team that created the Business 2.0 brand. All I gotta say is AOL better now screw up what was (and still is) a great magazine. They also better keep contracting work out to the folks from XPlane, a company I've become a big fan of. (link found via Evhead).

    Tuesday, July 10, 2001

    Oh, better add Dave's other site, Scripting News to my list of blogs as well. You see ... I used to use my bookmarks/favorites to peruse my daily sites every morning but now I've begun using the list I've assembled here at POELog. It's a whole lot easier. Added bonus ... I've had a couple notes from other webloggers that have been scanning their server logs and have come across my site as a frequent referrer ... if frequent = 3 that is :-) The result, they take a peek at my site, hopefully like it and then become a frequent visiter. The funny thing is ... they see the frequent links from POELog but don't realize that a vast majority of them are from me :-)

    Just added DaveNet to my list of "Weblogs of Note." After reading Dave's list of Who Reads DaveNet I figured I better start making Winer's daily rants a part of my day.

    N.Y. Times - 401(k) Accounts Are Losing Money for the First Time. Articles like this drive me nuts. The theory raised: individuals have control over their 401k investments, 401k investments have declined over the past year, therefore, individuals don't know what they're doing and should relinquish that control. How about this for a better thery: The nasdaq is 60% off highs achieved less than 18 months ago ... a majority of mutual funds invest in nasdaq tech stocks ... anyone that's been "in the market" for the past year has lost money ... anyone that hasn't lost money was on the sidelines for the past 3 years and is still behind those that participated in the market but saw a majority of their paper gains disappear. Declining values in 40k accounts are not the fault of individuals who have too much control over their investments ... it's the fault of a declining market and an economy that's in the doldrums.

    RedHerring.com | Catch of the Day: A personal connection. An RH follow-up on Speedle. I linked to the first COD mention back in June. Excerpt: Speedle's business is only partly based on what I call "publication services" like forwarding pages. Digging deeper, we find a company centered on identity. Centered on identity ... that's the key.

    Monday, July 09, 2001

    Amazon to BN.com: Gotcha - Say what you will about Amazon but you gotta like Bezos and admire his cunning.

    Fast Company: Full House - Executives at Las Vegas's Bellagio Hotel screened 84,000 candidates, did 27,000 interviews, and hired 9,600 people -- in 24 weeks. Now Cisco wants to know how they did it. Good case study. Shows how the web can streamline a company and how it allows companies to move at blazing speeds once they've become net-centric.

    Markets are conversations. Herman Miller gets it. Shhh ... don't tell anyone else at my employer that I'm linking to our chief competitor. To be fair though ... I'm not saying we don't get it ... I just found an example illustrating how HM does. (via bBlog).

    Typically I'm not a big video game player. I enjoyed video games as a kid but since graduating from college (other than purchasing Sim City 2000 when I bought my Apple Performa in 1995) I haven't found the time or interest to play any games. That is ... until this weekend ... when I found myself addicted to Bugdom - a game that came with the iMac I purchased a few months ago (to replace my dying Performa). Made it to Level 3. Seven more levels to go!

    Friday, July 06, 2001

    Google Zeitgeist - Google's answer to the Yahoo! Buzz Index (via Slashdot).

    Interested in reading a good business book this summer? Here's a list of the last nine business books I've read (in order of the most recent).
  • The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual
  • Entrepreneur America: Lessons from Inside Rob Ryan's High-Tech Start-Up Boot Camp
  • Done Deals: Venture Capitalists Tell Their Stories
  • amazon.com - Get Big Fast : Inside the Revolutionary Business Model That Changed the World
  • Eboys : The First Inside Account of Venture Capitalists at Work
  • Nudist on the Late Shift : And Other True Tales of Silicon Valley
  • Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends, and Friends into Customers
  • Customers.com: How to Create A Profitable Business Strategy for the Internet & Beyond
  • The Motley Fool's Rule Breakers, Rule Makers : The Foolish Guide to Picking Stocks
  • If I had to pick a top 3, I'd vote for: Eboys, Amazon.com - Get Big Fast, Entrepreneur America (in that order). I actually enjoyed all nine of the books though. I think that's partly because I do a lot of research before I buy and I only buy books that I have a pretty good idea I'll enjoy ... otherwise I wait for the book to arrive at the library. Speaking of the libary ... as I was browsing my book shelf last night and noticed these books there I realized that it had been awhile since I had a read a NON-business book or magazine. So, before dinner, Tyler and I and took a trip to the East Grand Rapids Library. I wanted a good fiction novel, preferably a courtroom drama type book. I finally decided on Personal Injuries by Scott Turow. I see now that it only has a 3 star rating at Amazon but that's fine by me. I'm just looking forward to some mindless, entertaining reading for once. Have a good weekend!

    Thursday, July 05, 2001

    Fast Company: Is the Internet Second Nature? Similar to the economist.com articles I posted yesterday, this FC piece provides case studies on how Intel, Cisco and Microsoft use the Net to transform how they do business. These companies understand that the Internet is more than just a technology and more than just a channel. Above all, the Internet is a mind-set. Net-based companies will come and go. But Net-centric companies -- companies that succeed in translating the possibilities of Internet technology into the everyday realities of an Internet culture -- are here to stay.

    Good post and corresponding discussion going on at Peterme.com about branding.

    Just found a way to modify my archive links so that they just list the month name rather than 5/1/2001 - 5/31/2001. Thank you Phil Ringnalda for the tip.

    Wednesday, July 04, 2001

    Must be a slow day in sports for this to be a main headline at ESPN.com. The commentary is hilarious because if you removed the words "hot dogs" you'd think they were talking about a REAL sport. "He has truly redefined the sport." Kobayashi, 23, employed a technique dubbed "the Solomon method" -- snapping the hot dogs in half, then shoving both pieces into his mouth. 50 in 12 minutes - now that takes talent!

    Industry Standard (at Yahoo): Microsoft Could Hold Passport to Net Interesting quote in the article from Clay Shirky: "They have tried the carrot approach with Passport for several years," Shirky said. "Now they are trying the stick: We're locking you out unless you register for a Passport."

    Economist.com: While Welch waited (from the same e-strategy brief series as the article below). Another example of a "big, established company" embracing ebusiness. The end result: Today, all of GE's big divisions run their own web marketplaces, both for internal and external use. Three initiatives: "e-buy"; "e-sell"; and "e-make"- are digitising the main functions of running the conglomerate, saving money, reaching customers faster and using Internet technology to extend the focus on quality that was the driving-force of Mr Welch's previous passion, six-sigma manufacturing. (thanks Dad for forwarding me these two articles).

    Economist.com: The Cemex Way - a rarity: a company in the industrialising world that has used e-business to steal a march on its rich-world rivals. Interesting story. There are a few companies I can think of that should follow the lead of Cemex. The company is kicking butt because it is making it a priority to "e-enable" EVERY part of their business. To my dismay, our competition embraces this strategy, we don't.

    Tuesday, July 03, 2001

    Darwin: Brand New Branding - Forget what you knew about branding. The Web changes everything. Four experts explain how and why. Great article. Some choice excerpts:

    Scott Bedbury: Brands are not simply products or services. Brands are the sum total of all the images that people have in their heads about a particular company and a particular mark.

    Regis McKenna: We tend to think that branding comes first and the company's success follows. In fact, when you look at most businesses, the products came first, they built their infrastructures, and their brands evolved along with the success of the products and services over many, many decades.

    John Hagel: [in reaction to an executive that said:] "You mean my customers are going to talk with each other about my product's flaws?" Then I would say, "I'll go on the Web and find at least five discussion forums where people are actively discussing your products and services." The point is, this is not a choice. It is going to happen. The only choice you have is how to participate in that discussion.

    Al Ries: The difference between the Web and any other mass medium is that the Web is interactive. The user of the message is in charge, not the sender. And guess what? People don't want advertising.

    (via bBlog).

    Monday, July 02, 2001

    Fool.com: Buy and Hold Forever? Good article on the Fool. It clarifys the Fool's investment strategy. Many people, myself included, have unfairly catagorized their strategy as "buy and hold." Instead, their sell strategy (see 'When to Sell' on this page) can be summed up as The two major reasons to sell a stock are 1) if the basic business changes in a way that was not anticipated, or 2) if the stock becomes overvalued enough that even after considering the taxes you would have to pay on the capital gains you still believe the company will underperform. I need to be more rigorous about following this strategy with my own stock holdings.

    WSJ: Followers of the Motley Fool Are Suffering, and Not Gladly - I'm sorry, but I'll stick by the Fool's basic tenents of "do-it-yourself investment" versus paying someone a hefty management fee to manage my finances for me. One quote in this article drives me nuts: " ... The 50-year-old Los Angeles doctor says that last year he lost 30% of his children's college fund by following a stock-buying strategy devised by David and Tom Gardner." What makes him think he would do any better with a professional advisor?!! The nasdaq was down by over 39% last year and I can tell you many-a mutual fund was also down 30% or more. Now watch the doctor throw his money to some mutual fund this year only to watch it get trounced by both the market averages and the Fool's strategy. Find a strategy and stick to it.