Noble Death Song

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

At a certain age, the eyes weaken and, yet, we are able to see more clearly. The conjunctions of my life, at present, are met by the May graduation of our elder son; the bleak news from around the world even though events on our 1/2 acre in Durham seem only remotely affected (visions of Downton Abbey abound); the sight on the horizon of my sixtieth birthday (in 2020! not really; doesn’t bother me.. and I just wish that the others of my circle and demographic would set a different example for me, like, quit dying) so that I am attracted to those who knew what they were doing early and often and able to find others like themselves.

Two Navy friends recommended Act of Valor. Couldn’t believe it as the trailer for the film looked so typical of ‘the best parts of a bad movie.’ They persuaded me that the film was made with SEAL cooperation with the hopes that the film would contribute to their increased recruiting requirements. Actual SEALs performed all of the terrific stunts and some of the weak acting. Happily, they did well at what they are paid to do. I wonder if we can really respond so effectively, and expensively, to dilute the malicious intent of so many cheaply armed bandits and thugs?! And can the SEALs truly carry enough ammunition for such firefights?! Anyway, watch the Behind the Scenes clip at the site.

Our audience of forty left the theatre in a quiet mood even though the film’s action scenes were exhilarating.

I admire the well-conceived obituaries in The Economist if only for the broad and interesting range of its selection. Lyn Lusi’s obit saddened me because of her achievements in face of daunting circumstances in a dangerous place (Republic of Congo). Courage may be manifested in many ways.

Photo courtesy of The Economist 31 March 2012

Tecumseh figurehead; US Naval Academy.

This poem of Tecumseh was central to the plot of Act of Valor. I walked or marched passed this figurehead thousands of times over a four year period, never investigating the purpose and meaning of its presence.

“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”

Schumpeter in The Economist: The Art of Selling

Monday, December 12th, 2011

“Management theory mostly ignores selling. Peter Drucker, perhaps the most influential guru, wrote that “the aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous.” Most business schools do not teach sales as a separate subject in MBA programmes. Consultants have rethought strategy to the nth degree but seldom furrow their brows about sales.

It shows. According to a new book, “Sales Growth: Insights from Leading Sales Executives” by Thomas Baumgartner, Homayoun Hatami and Jon Vander Ark, three consultants at McKinsey, the performance of salespeople within a single company typically varies by a factor of three. And the difference between the best and worst companies when it comes to selling is far greater than the difference for functions such as supply-chain management, purchasing or finance.”

Full 22 Oct 2011 Economist article here.

I thought of this article today as I met two young, promising friends venturing into the brave new world of adult employment. They could and will out-perform 2 or 3 others once that they meet the organization on their wavelengths. My other reminder was how important is sales, which equals revenue, and how this organizational function is so often disdained by the usual enterprise. I guess because the associated process is not measurable or actually controllable. Where or what is the bottom-line if there is not top-line or revenue?! In an unpredictable economy, those sales-types,the ones with trusting customer relationships and, of course, the capability to cultivate such, will always have satisfying employment, in my opinion.

The new economic climate. Deleverage to c. 1995?

Sunday, January 30th, 2011


Cover of the 1/29 to 2/4 2011 The Economist.

I wonder how the condition, if not the plight of America, will manifest itself in the surge of political instability as we see in Tunisia and Egypt. Moving out the autocratic regimes is always a welcomed occurrence for me. And how will America be affected? Is our diminished capacity to intervene a virtue in the long run? Which nations could seize on the turmoil to our disadvantage?

Paris 1919 by Margaret Macmillian well describes the nearly senseless political boundaries established in the Middle East lands by the victors of World War 1. For example, Iraq is a land of three distinct parts – Kurdish, Sunni and Shite – that had no business be jammed into one nation. It’s been a violent 100 years to undo this benevolently intended catastrophe.

I spoke with a charming and typically attractive 68 year old woman in Denver yesterday. She retired from television production with several years of work experience in the Middle East. Although she welcomes the abundant sharing of all varieties of information from Facebook to WikiLeaks, she feels that there must be a balance in the revelation of such info. As well, she is nearly dismayed by the amount, frequency and category of change that people are presently enduring. Hers was not a plea for the mythical ‘simpler times’ but for a chance to catch-up.

In many ways, from scheduling a dinner party to organizing a business related program, I sense that people are busy, too busy and busy at being busy. Taking to the streets will induce the needed the change- and this could be the Tea Party or the Muslim Brotherhood – but it will only be the first step of reformed behavior.

Comparing GDP of US states to countries.

Monday, January 17th, 2011

States as Countries

Also noted that less than 6% of USA considered developed. The advantage of common language, currency and culture or at least television programming induces a misunderstanding of the nation’s size.

Graphic from The Economist of 15 January 2011
Dr. Tufte would be proud.

The Economist 2010 Award for Innovation: be like Steve

Monday, October 11th, 2010

economist innovation

Economist citation here. What can be the results of such innovation? Microsoft announces new mobile phone platform today and stock goes nearly nowhere, remaining around $24.62. Today, Apple stock rises $2.83 to $296.91 achieving new, all-time high. Imitation is indeed a high, and seemingly profitable, form of flattery.

Where is the mobile phone app race presently?
Daily Downloads in millions:
Apple – 20
Android – 5
Nokia – 2.3
RIM- 1.5

Mobile Device Operating Systems, market share in %
Symbian (Nokia) – 40
Blackberry (RIM) – 18
Android- 16
Apple – 15
Microsoft – 7
Others- 4

Apple has 15% market share and greater than 2x the number of apps sold as all of their competitors combined!

As other firms cut costs, buy back stock and hoard cash, Apple pursues its own path of innovation. Their stock is up nearly $60 since the iPad’s introduction in April of this year. Seems to me that the mantra of the enterprise should be “how might we be like Apple?”

‘With access to the same people, the same technologies and the same funding sources, why are they consistently so innovative?’ might be a question that every CEO would strive to answer in our economic doldrums.

Steve Jobs The Econ

The 9/26 Economist: an essay on Business Schools

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009


Concur with author that there needs to be a change in these institutions as well, especially the study of economic history. Shouldn’t higher education ultimately be about doing good for those at large who finance these educations? I don’t believe that the resentment and disbelief has yet occurred in full towards those who have so mismanaged or abused their stewardship of the various entities with which they were entrusted. Here is link to Mr. Schumpeter’s essay:

Our Titanic Economy: 22 August Economist

Saturday, August 29th, 2009