Creating Generational Legacies

Saturday, February 27, 2016

How Augmented Reality is changingbthebfave of retail

Life and Tech #41: Cosmetic Retailing of the Future

This week I got a very rare look inside Sephora’s Innovation Lab in San Francisco, where they test out new store concepts.

While I was there, I met with Bridget Dolan, the head of innovation for Sephora, who showed me what’s currently possible inside retail stores.

That video is at: 

She showed me how Sephora is using augmented reality on signage and other items in the stores. You aim your phone at the sign, and the sign has virtual items that pop off of it.

In another demo, I saw how you can virtually try on lipstick. You aim your phone at your face and then click on various products and shades.

Fantastic stuff, but our conversations went a lot further. Sephora has developed a color match system that keeps track of not only your purchases, but your color preferences, so that you can easily match other products in the future.

I also got to see the importance of Sephora’s community, hosted on Lithium, which they call “Beauty Talk.” 

This community includes both employees in stores as well as everyday customers, who discuss Sephora products. On an associated site called “Beauty Board,” they show off their latest makeup and discuss how they did it. 

Sephora uses those communities to discover new trends, like contouring, and then quickly develop new products based on those trends and get them into stores. Bridget showed me one such product aimed at the contouring trend they discovered several years ago, and said they’re selling tons of those kits.

They also use beacons to let customers automatically bring up their shopping lists when they enter the stores, among other features. But, they also said they were proceeding very carefully with such features because they don’t want to freak out customers or make them feel uneasy with tracking technologies.

Like other innovators who are using beacons, such as the Coachella music festival, this team focuses on delivering utility to customers and making sure they aren’t freaked out.

One last thing that got my attention -- they aren’t pushing augmented reality as hard as other apps on the market are. 

Some apps, like this magic mirror, let you see entire makeup sets, while Sephora so far has focused only on lipstick: 

This is because they want to make sure the quality of the experience matches Sephora’s brand promise. Colors must match exactly to what the products actually deliver.

Sephora is hugely important to the future of retailing and you regularly see their work demoed on stage at Apple and other keynotes. They’re worth paying attention to, and I was so happy I got the chance to do a live video with this incredible team.


Scoble World Tour, research for new book “Beyond Mobile”: 

While on the road I’m seeing companies like RealSpace 3D, which does amazing audio systems for VR headsets: 

Here’s the Futurecast I did at CES with Andrew Keen: 


Microsoft shows off Hololens (its version of augmented reality glasses) at TED: 

The Meta video is coming March 2nd. First images of Meta’s demo are here: 

If you want a taste of augmented reality, visit the Hunger Games demo at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, or watch this video: 


How will VR change the way you sell things? Check out this demo about how condo sales are changing: 

VR Studios builds motion capture rooms for enterprises. Here its founder shows off one such room and discusses how enterprises are using them to both design new things, but also sell new things, like condos that haven’t yet been built: 


Investor Mark Suster breaks down valuations: 


Nice list of tools to use in business: 


Apple’s CEO Tim Cook spoke up against a government attempt to get Apple to hack a terrorist’s iPhone and Rackspace’s CTO, John Engates, agrees here: 
I agree with both.


Can you keep up with me? Rackspace employee Thomas Weeks wrote up what I did in just one day in Virginia. Whew! 

Hope you have a great week, if you see me checking out lipstick don’t worry, OK? :-)


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Uber is changing the way Employees engage!


    The 9-to-5 job has been out of popularity for several years. Employers have got to offer flexible schedules as much as possible in order to retain the most in-demand workers.

  • But the Uber business model takes flexibility to a new level! 

Uber’s ability to attract hundreds, or even thousands, of drivers in every city it operates in stems from the strong appeal of the opt-in work week. Drivers can choose to work whenever they want, and for as many hours as they want, and there’s no need to ask anyone for vacation.

“Talent wants to opt in and out at their leisure, it’s the ultimate convenience."

Imagine if  you are required to work about 40 hours a week, but on your own schedule, with an option to work at home? 

In a typical accounting firm, working full-time as a salaried employee means you can work as few as 30 hours a week, or as much as 80 hours a week, if that’s how long it takes to meet your deadlines. I’ve seen many of my colleagues in the accounting profession deal with the ugly side of that work-week model.

In that model, a few things change for the employer. They may not always be able to expect that you’ll be at your desk at any given time, and they may need to develop new requirements about cell phone accessibility, but ultimately, they can still develop job descriptions for the same number of people to accomplish the same amount of work.

With the opt-in work week, everything changes.

Say that my skill as an accountant , a firm is willing to hire me, even though I only want to work 20 hours a week most of the time, but I still want to receive ample wages to fuel my activities for the additional 20 hours a week I now have to fill.

Someone else only wants to work 10 hours. And another worker has a highly specialized skill, but wants to spread her talent out among several ventures, so she only has five hours a week to spare.

Each of these employees now acts like their own consulting firm, and the employer has to adopt a new team-based model for ensuring the job gets done on time.

For Uber, the ‘job’ is picking up all of the passengers who request a ride at a given time, within a reasonable amount of time. It makes no difference to Uber if that is accomplished by two drivers or 20. If it can’t be done in a reasonable amount of time with only two drivers, Uber can offer additional incentives to bring in more drivers.

To match Uber, my fictitious accounting firm would need to adjust to a team-based deadline model, with incentives to make sure the job gets done on time by somebody, even if the 5-hours-a-week-employee and the 10-hours-a-week-employee both decide not to work this month.

In the past, this kind of flexibility has only been available in independent contractor jobs like tutoring, or appointment-only hair-cutting, or other self-employed gigs, where the only thing at stake was your own income level, not a company’s ability to complete tax returns and audits.

Will the Uber business model actually drive this kind of paradigm shift in the work week? The shift into the ‘gig’ economy is being viewed  with varying reactions from embracing it to eyeing it with caution.

Do you want to work as you need the money, but still having access to coworkers and collaboration and the resources of an employer. Is Uber building a culture where employees are nurtured and looked after? What are Ubers plans for the future?

Uber’s endgame is a driver team entirely composed of robots. The company is at the forefront of discussions of the legal and logistical implications of self-driving cars, because if the company can cut out the cost of the driver, it can offer cheaper rides and earn more profits. The company is currently agnostic about the makeup of its workforce because it doesn’t foresee having one for much longer.

So this makes me wonder. Is the gig economy just an intermediate step in the progression toward a fully automated robotic workforce? And if it is, is there anything we can do to stop it? 

Inspired by Olivia Barrow covers manufacturing, travel and tourism for the Milwaukee Business Journal, and blogs on LinkedIn about life as a young journalist in a rapidly changing media landscape.

Reporter at Milwaukee Business Journal


  • Mark Sweigart

    Supervisor at PCA

    I agree with Mr. Levens . Are the drivers properly insured - they should all have commercial driving insurance which is about 3to 4 thousand dollars a year. I would bet that 99% of all Uber drivers do not have this coverage and are setting themselves for a big lawsuit

    1 min ago
  • William (Bill) Josephs, Ph.D.

    Chronic Pain Psychologist

    Adding to the intelligent critique by Aimee Levens, this article and not all but many respondents behave as if a menial job like an Uber driver sets some sort of standard for business. Most Uber drivers are looking for extra work because they are so poor they can’t make ends meet. This mentality sends one more volley against labor. The article sets impoverished standards among predatory business and the ‘thinkers’ who seek to exploit the working poor; who have been steadily impoverished over the last 40 years. It typifies those who express rationales to support making the worker modular and ultimately unnecessary, consistent with utter yet indirectly expressed contempt for the working class.

    5 mins ago
  • John Gottler

    Principal Transportation Engineer Aurecon

    Lets take this one step at a time. Firstly Uber will move to Self Drive Cars where drivers are still needed and this will happen very soon. For Uber to move to autonomous cars they need a completely different operating model. So they would need to work with Apple, Microsoft or Google to achieve such a change as services will not just be travel but travel will be the prime component. The cost of cars to communities and the environment cannot be sustained so it is inevitable that the travel vehicle must change. As we cannot afford the roading changes and it is not acceptable to force human modification on all travelling humans. So it has to be robotic travel.

    13 mins ago
  • Arnold Malin

    Accomplished, High Touch Healthcare Executive

    Simple logic in play here...Why have so many employers missed this shift in the labor force? Likely focus on cost containment in the workforce has clouded their thinking!

    25 mins ago
  • Frank Qu

    Technical Manager, Professional Scrum Master I, Software Quality Assurance, Financial Enterprise System Implementation

    Workers do need flexibility somehow and someway to accommodate various personal commitments in life whereas drastic shift out of the normal working pattern may not necessarily be a trend for most industries. Like other personal service lines, Über particularly needs round-clock open to its customers, which is echoing the nature of his core business. On the other side, many clinic and life science researches have reported that constant and drastic change in working shift, particularly from day to night, would simply impose workers to several serious health issues. Responsible economic and social development should consider the negative impact, thus reliable alternative such as automatic cruise car or so solution may be better solution to serve society humanly down the road.

    37 mins ago
  • Ayodeji Fola-Owolabi

    Grad Student 

    Yes, but they have to aim closer to employment law. Why spoil a good thing?

    51 mins ago
  • Ron Segal

    Digital analyst, architect and inventor

    Thought provoking article, which over generalises the potential of 'work when you want'. The Uber model is based on the need for a worker to be 100% available for the duration of each job. Furthermore drivers are effectively interchangeable, i.e. no specialist skills other than driving and perhaps knowledge of an area. It also relies on the supply of drivers who are working always balancing against demand (the worker requires this too). Although perhaps not unique, few other kinds of work would translate well to this scenario. With regards robots (driverless vehicles), they work 24 x 7 x 365 (apart from maintenance outages). They don't care if work isn't available when they are available to work, although the company does as it has effectively paid their salaries (capital investment) for their lifetime! A very different model again.

    1 hour ago
  • Bo S.

    Visionary story teller, composer

    imagine a world where everybody was rich, lived in nice homes and worked for fun. an ice cream shop owner, also a millionaire, wakes up every day for work at 6 am because it's fun and he doesn't have to stress over money or having a home. The money is distributed equally, regardless of skill. But nobody gets paid for working, they work for fun. we have everything as it is, internet, politics, technology, the only thing we don't worry over any more is money and taxes. so nobody goes into debt because we eliminate debt. we don't eliminate money, NO we keep that as it is. we just work for fun, and the money in circulation is distributed happily to everybody, and there's no taxes, so we get to keep the money, save it, invest it, or gamble wtih it. how do we buy things, how does our trade economy work? with the money, you save you money pool your money, but you don't borrow. nobody needs to borrow from any institution or anybody. you pool your money together, or the person who created the goods can gift it to you, or set a lower price. the model of this system allows for its citizens to not be overburden with economic stress and in turn create harmony. it's a work in progress and it is feasible.

    1 hour ago
  • Nicki Thacker

    author at Freelance

    Just jump in your car and use it as a taxi? What about licence regulations, insurance, etc. that regular taxi drivers must have. Look out!!! Nicki

    1 hour ago
  • Brian Heath

    Student at New Zealand Film & Television School

    I'm a freelancer. It's all well & good saying this, but many would have to be financially independent to start with and acquired a mortgage before doing that, as Banks are definitely not with the program, it's hard enough to get a loan even when you have assets and rental income, as Banks are only interested in secure regular job income generally, especially in countries in Latin America , where I live these days when not working or studying. Plus you would have to be so much in demand, in an already saturated freelance market full of good qualified and experienced people, that no-none wants to pay for anymore especially in expatriate gigs - so you could pick and choose when to work. Zero Hour contracts are the reverse of this for employers.

    1 hour ago

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Can Virtual Reality change the world

Inspired by Steven Rosenbaums article 
In Huffington post

Virtual reality creates a sense of "presence," so even if your conscious brain knows what you are observing is virtual, your emotional instincts and responsive brain absorbs the VR fiction a real experience and memory. 

Let me explain ... I was given a vr contraption to use , and told to walk across a soccer field I started walking across the field, the ground came away on either side.... And I was now walking on a narrow bridge, with no support, And a sheer drop on either side.... To me this was totally real, although I knew it couldn't be!!

VR could actually change human consciousness. Inside of it, it feels like real life, it feels like truth. And you feel present in the world that you're inside and you feel present with the people that you're inside of it with.

Sort of like a movie on steroids - where you are part of the set 

VR can become more than a medium, but will fundamentally be an alternative level of human consciousness,

says  Chris Milk, who is at the forefront of exploring and inventing in VR. 

"Virtual reality has the potential to actually change the world. It's a machine, but through this machine we become more compassionate, we become more empathetic, and we become more connected. And ultimately, we become more human."


Do we become more isolated in our own make believe worlds?

What happens when a violent video game feels like murder or when pornography feels like sex. 
How does that change the way humans interact or function as a society or with each other ?

What do you think? 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

10 Insights emanating from i4j 2016 conference

Brian Rashid summarises 10 insights that came from the i4j conference -

David Nordfors, Vint Cerf and Robin Starbuck Farmanfarmaian prepared and facilitated for 2 brilliant days of innovation - a collection of 100+ top thought-leaders, activists, entrepreneurs, policy makers, executives and more. 

This will be a rolling stone that will build and add massive values in ways that nobody thought possible.... And Australia is privileged to play a part! 

1. “Senior” Entrepreneurs are a booming economy. 

Thirty-four million 50-plus year olds in the U.S. alone want to create a business of their own. This creates the opportunities to build experience incubators in organizations such as Ernst & Young’s EMEIA (Europe, Middle East, India and Africa). Companies, such as Ernst & Young, have made it a top 2016 strategic priority to design and implement cross-generational incubators. These incubators bring together Millennials with seniors so each group can bring their expertise, learn from the other and create value in the new economy

2. Women represent the largest global economy. 

The numbers alone are astounding. By 2025, women will constitute $32.8 trillion of global spending. In 2015, women constituted $16 trillion in global spending. $9 trillion of untapped spending is capped due to gender inequality and disaggregate economic influence. The women based economy is twice that as China and India, combined. One billion women will enter the workforce in the next decade, and 2 million new small businesses will be owned by women in that time. Whether it’s a Women Based Economy (check out Tracy Saville and, HackforHer (Christina Chen) or Supercritical Human Elevated [SHE] Economy (Monique Morrow’s piece as a co-author of the book,  i4J Disrupting Unemployment), the vision is to create an Internet of Women, an inspired collaborative platform of job creators for our global economy – built for “her,” where participation transcends gender and aspires for authentic inclusion. Can we not imagine developing the Internet of Women platform to create a world in which gainful employment is divided 50:50 amongst men and women and where there is parity for all?  Can we imagine restoring the missing element, those women who are poverty stricken and marginalized globally to double productivity? We can if we dare.

3. Companies are looking for talent. Forty percent of U.S. Companies cannot find qualified workers. This creates a huge market for organizations (both for-profit, nonprofit, government and startups) to develop skills training. Imagine the possibilities for nonprofits to become profitable, for profits to expand, and government to fund activities that lead to the enhancement of the critical, yet missing skills sets that companies are desperate to employ.

4. Schools need to update their curriculums. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we had 5.4 million job openings and 7.9 million people who were unemployed (5%). So clearly there is a gap. The lecture model is the most frequently used model in 80% of the classrooms today worldwide. It was developed at the beginning of the 1900s to produce factory workers who follow directions well. Today we need students who can think and prepare for a world that is constantly changing. The one size fits all delivery is setting us up for a crisis (see no. 3 above as proof). Instead, we will move into an algorithmic approach to learning that is focused on you, the student.

5. Special needs no longer have to be a handicap. People who have difficulties getting jobs because of special conditions, might be helped by modern information technology to get good jobs. Think databases that correlate special conditions with special abilities. There is a company in Germany, for example, that hires blind people to conduct breast exams in an effort to detect breast cancer. The logic here is blind people have a heightened sense of touch and are more likely to rely on this skill to diagnose more accurately. Very important work.

6. Technology can turn nonprofits into for profit businesses. Most nonprofits rely on philanthropic dollars and grants to exist. If you take a peak at no. 3 above, you’ll see that companies are looking for talent they can’t find. So, why not partner with companies, or even better, banks to pay their customers to use the nonprofit’s services. I have written about this before, but here is the idea again. A bank wants new customers. They should offer their new customers a free 10-week skill set building training at a nonprofit like Samaschool. Samaschool, currently a nonprofit doing amazing data driven work to help prepare low income individuals find meaningful and sustainable work, could partner with a bank. Here is the win-win-win. The bank gets new customers who are going to invest with the bank for life. The more the customers can compete for good jobs, the more money they make. The more money they make, the more they invest, take out loans for home ownership, and so on. Customers win because they are now developing skills that help them do meaningful work and make a living. Nonprofits win because they don’t have to beg and plead for grants, can pay their staff higher wages, and expand in ways they want (which all happens when the banks purchase the courses for their new clients, as opposed to Samaschool relying on grants to offer courses).

7. The one page proposal. A few years ago Patrick Riley, author of the One-Page Proposal got a phone call from a homeless woman. She was calling from the public library because she could place free calls from the local branch. She showered there, too. One day, she came across the book, One-Page Proposal. She called the author of the book from the library and she asked if he could help her create her own one page proposal to the bank. She explained that she sleeps in the ATM alcove at night, and no one cleans it. She wanted the one page proposal to ask the bank to clean the alcove. Patrick helped her, they wrote a one page proposal, and sent it to the bank. The bank did not clean the alcove, but they did something even better. They hired her to clean it. Then they gave her a promotion. She currently runs the cleaning service for a number of banks in the area, and employees a few people. This woman in Memphis is representative of a huge rise of free agents (800 million worldwide, 55 million in the U.S.). The one page proposal allows people to create jobs for themselves based on their own skill sets. It opens the opportunity to create a new job around a new idea, in addition to existing jobs. Patrick also told us that companies use the one pager model as a challenge to potential employees. For example, if Xerox is facing a problem, they request a one page proposal about different solutions, and will hire from there. It also allows companies to eliminate the HR representatives and focus on the direct hiring manager to people relationship.


8. Upwork on the rise. Upwork, (O-desk and Elance joined forces and created Upwork) has done over $1 billion in sales from clients, over four million clients, 10 million freelancers and over 2,900 categories of work in the last few years. These are not just small projects. Some last several months and even years making it more than just a gig economy. If you have a computer and internet signal, you can hire or work using Upwork. A world of talent is one click away. This is both for doing things at a cheaper price, as well as finding new things one had not thought of doing previously.

9. Linkedin is innovating for its users. One of the co-founders of LinkedIn came to the i4j Summit. He shared that employers have a desperate need for healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and energy (specifically IT) talent. He also announced that on March 14, LinkedIn in partnership with the Markle Foundation, is releasing a program that enables employers to point students to some of the programs and jobs looking to fill these roles. Linkedin is always thinking through ways to guide job-seekers. This is one more example.

10. Making things could make you money, and solve key manufacturing problems. The maker movement is a popular one, and people are making a living creating cool things. But that’s only a small part of the potential for the democratization of technology in these circles. As traditional manufacturing jobs decline, and we run out of resources, contemporary maker technologies can support localized manufacturing. 3D printers allow me to draw out a prosthetic arm in the United States and print it in Africa. 3d printers allow me to design a prosthetic hand in South Africa, print it in the United States, and then collaborate remotely with Iceland by emailing design files back and forth. With nearly 3000 community workshops (Fab Labsmakerspaces, etc) and hundreds of Maker Faires worldwide, Makers hope to bring all hands on deck to solve local problems on a global scale. Cool.

I could make a list of 30 things I learned. AI and algorithms are making it easier for both job seekers and companies to find each other. That’s exciting, too, but is only the start. As we look even further into the future of work, what kind of ecosystems could we imagine where people create new jobs, ones that have never been considered before. 20 years ago, asking for money to build an app would have resulted in you being laughed out of the room. The average salary for this job today is over $100k.

Maybe that’s the test. When people laugh, we’re on the right track. I don’t know. But whether I am laughing about ideas or not, I do know one thing:

The future of work puts a smile on my face, and that feels like a good place to start.

Brian Rashid is a professional speaker on the leadership, innovation, and the future of work. Email him:

Monday, February 1, 2016

Education through collaboration and masterminds

The big question-how to educate people to operate in such a new world--not only the those with natural inclination to entrepreneurship and technology.

WE have developed a great tool in my school of communications for bringing together students from social sciences and computer sciences. We created   a Media Innovation Lab where students from CS ,psychology and communications(usually technophobes) in their third year to work together on joint projects including development of social apps and prototypes and robotics.

These collaborations creates wonders. To listen to the Communication and Psychology students talk about their products at the end of the year-is amazing. The technophobia has gone. The skills they learned are very valuable for the type of world you Curt described.
This can be done at any age including elementary schools.
Again -thank you Curt for the insights. Glad your team put emphasis on the importance of the narrative.

Commentary about i4j summit

Cosmin - To paraphrase a discussion I had with Mei Lin, people, ideas and actions thrive when they find and act within their tribe (=culture, ecosystem, etc.). 

Response to Steve Denning's proposition to employ a person based on the ability to learn vs what they know

 Curt's Hiring filter at SRI was to put creativity, curiosity, collaboration, and passion above specific skills.  I knew if they had these attributes they could learn almost anything — hey, that is what innovation is because, by definition, it is the creation of sustainable new knowledge.  

People had to  stand up every 2-8 weeks and present their value propositions. 

 This is a way to implement the kinds of ideas we believed in much more efficiently, effectively, and scalably, both inside and outside the enterprise. 

Heather MacgowanI could not agree more!
Education needs to balance both knowledge formation (expertise) and, perhaps more importantly, learning agility.