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Week In Review – May 6, 2012

As I write this it’s been raining for more than 12 hours straight. That’s good because we need it. April-June are the hottest months of the year here in Chiang Mai, with temperatures averaging between 102-110F daily. Needless to say I’ve been staying inside as much as possible, enjoying the air conditioning and working my ass off.

This week was another busy one. Let’s get into it.

Books Read And In-Progress

I started and finished an excellent book by Doc Searls of Cluetrain Manifesto fame – The Intention Economy. Doc believes, and is working towards, enabling customers to take control of their data and provide it to vendors on an as-needed basis, on their terms. This would relieve many companies of the need to track, or really attempt to track, all of the movements of their current and potential customers online. More about that later in the post.

I continue reading two books: Web Analytics 2.0 by Avinash Kaushik and War Made New by Max Boot. The former talks about how to use analytics to better measure outcomes and understand visitors, while the later discusses four major “revolutions” in military weaponry and warfare and their impact on the world. War Made New has given me a much better understanding of why the world is, and Web Analytics 2.0 has helped me hone my ninja analytics skillz.

A book I started a few days ago which has been on my list is The Power Of Unpopular by Erika Napoletano. Having been in business for myself for the better part of 13 years I haven’t had an “a-ha” moment yet however it provides solid reminders of why we should be ourselves and attempt to be all things to all people. I tried that with my IT business back in 2000 and can tell you it simply doesn’t work.

Though I haven’t written about it except for my disagreement with part of it, Return on Influence by Mark Schaefer is a great read. Part of the premise of the book is that Klout, a company I’ve railed against more than a few times (posts here and here and here), is in the beginning stages of being able to really measure online influence. Mark states though that online influence is very different than influence IRL (in real life). Retweets, likes, shares, pins and all that kind of thing are the stuff of online influence. I highly disagree with this, however on thing Mark said is spot on – one thing Klout can measure is your day to day ability to get stuff shared.

All of the books above I recommend you read. Don’t forget to click on the titles as those are Amazon affiliate links. My daughter thanks you for contributing to her college fund :)

Movies That Will Shift Your Paradigm

I’m a huge fan of documentaries with my favorites are typically found on the History and Discovery channels. However this week’s lineup comes from the BBC and Morgan Spurlock of Super Size Me fame.

First up is the BBC documentary The Century of the Self. This 4-part series discusses how and why advertising shifted from being need-focused to want-focused. It discusses how the father of PR – Edward Beranays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud – took what he knew had used for political propaganda and took it to the business world. If you want a better understanding of why we’re inundated with advertising, why it is today, and don’t mind becoming even more disenchanted with large businesses this is 4 hours more than worth your time.

A second documentary from the BBC, and equally disconcerting if not controversial, is the series The Power Of Nightmares. This is a documentary about how less than a hundred years ago politicians in the U.S. and the UK ran on platforms of positivity. Apparently that stopped working, and so negativity took over as politicians began to seek election and re-election by scaring people into believing things that aren’t true. Does a global terrorist network actually exist? This documentary says no, and backs it up with proof. As we all know there are two sides of every coin, so I’ll leave it to you to decide what you believe is truth.

And that brings up to The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. This film is hilarious, and if you’ve seen Super Size Me (also by Morgan Spurlock) you won’t be disappointed. Greatest Movie is about how Morgan comes up with the idea for the film and seeks sponsors to cover the costs. It documents everyone he spoke with to get the $1.5 million he needed. It’s a truly inside view into advertising and product endorsement. Bottom line: if you want corporations to sponsor what you’ve got you’re going to have to make a deal. Did Morgan lose full control over his movie to get the funding he needed, and did he keep his soul or lose his artistic integrity along the way? Watch and find out.

How Much Privacy Do We Have Online? Not Much.

The Intention Economy got me thinking about online privacy and just how much we’re being tracked online and by whom. I’ve started doing some research on the matter and seeing who is tracking me. So far in less than a week I have 46 advertising cookies on my browser and literally hundreds of other cookies. It also appears that one of the more popular commenting systems might be providing information to a third-party company that seeks this data for advertisers and others.

I’m in the beginning stages of the research but hope to have a PDF up in a few weeks with all of my findings. What I’ve found so far is what many have suspected for along time: many sites are tracking what we do for themselves and advertisers, and that unless we have our browsers configured to tell us about this and use other tools, we would never know.

If you’re concerned about online privacy, and as a parent and general paranoid person I am, you’ll want to read this report. Be sure to sign up for blog updates below so you don’t miss it.

On A Personal Note

This is the last month my daughter Palamee will be in school. At the end of May we’ll be leaving Chiang Mai and heading to my wife’s town in the northeast of Thailand for a few weeks. After that we’ll go to Bangkok for a week or two and then head back home to the U.S.!

We moved to Thailand in during Thanksgiving week (November) in 2010. It’s been a great time and so much has happened. That could be a book in of itself. Over the course of our stay I turned a personal blog into Dempsey Marketing, with help from referral partners and very excellent clients. It’s because of business, and some other reasons, that we are headed back home in July.

My daughter Palamee was on the cover of a calendar for a local mall, and in their anniversary fashion show. She’s learned a lot in her international school and made a number of friends.

My wife Kookkai has been very successful in learning how to cook a wider variety of Thai dishes. This only reinforces my decision of more than 10 years ago to stop cooking once she started. The deal is that I’ll do the dishes when she cooks. I definitely got the better side of that deal. As I like to say – I’m a lucky man. Many others will be lucky when he resumes her Thai cooking classes when we return.

There are, frankly, only a few things I’ll miss about Thailand. I’ll miss the new friends I’ve made, and I’ll definitely miss the food. The weather, for the most part, has also been awesome, so I’ll miss that a bit (except for the hotter than hell days of recent time). There is an entire list of things I won’t miss though, and are the biggest reasons we aren’t staying longer. At the top of that list are mainly large cultural differences between the US and Thailand. I’ll get into those as soon as we return.

We’ll be returning to Minnesota, specifically New Ulm. It’s nice living in a small town and being able to go to the city when you want. We’ll see how long it takes us to move to the Twin Cities though.

Thoughts Of Getting A Full-Time Job

When I’m tired and reading stories of startups that are doing great I start to think about how it would be to work full-time for someone. Frankly I don’t like being told what to do by someone that hasn’t done it before. I believe that it was for that reason I was successful with my web development firm – I could code and I was the owner/manager. Because I could code it was easier to gain the respect of my team. The same was the case when I did agile software development consulting.

As entrepreneurs we wear many hats, so it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. It’s in those times that the false belief we’ve been fed – that full-time employment is stable – starts to nefariously creep around our heads. I was thinking about it this morning. With so much to do and to worry about, wouldn’t it just be easier to get a job? Not really.

If I got a job then I’d be away from my family. I’d be taking orders from god-knows-who. Thoughts of Dilbert, Office Space, and The Office come to mind. Don’t get me wrong though. The jobs I had in the past were pretty great, and my bosses were all awesome. But there was always that voice in the back of my head telling me I could be doing more and having a much larger impact. It’s that that always led me back to self-employment.

And so it was this morning that, when the full-time job monster creeped into my head, I realized that I just needed some more sleep.

That’s It For This Week!

Another busy week has come and gone. I hope you had a great week too, and are looking forward to the new one.

Comments

  1. These movies sound pretty awesome – I’m a huge movie guy. Not sure if a global terrorist network exists or not, but I’m sure theres great movies on both sides of argument. I’m really interested in the other two though. I remember watching a special about Bernays and how he was basically the guy that created the modern-day image of a good hardy breakfast (at least in the U.S. – eggs, bacon, etc.). It was pretty astonishing. If only I could get some scientists in my pocket :).  

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