Creating Generational Legacies

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

GES 2016 takeouts

Jeff Hoffman on outcomes of GES 2016

I'll add my two cents as well.  I judged the international pitch competition for GIST (the State Department program for Global Innovation through Science and Technology) at GES and also did several days of mentoring with the international entrepreneurs for GES+ and for GEN (Global Entrepreneurship Network) where I serve as a board member.  We had entrepreneurs from 140 countries compete for cash in a pitch competition, and I worked with around 30 of those countries personally.  

My key takeaways are these:

1.  The democracy of information (i.e. the internet) is enabling new entrepreneurs from emerging nations to launch companies and create impact in ways they never could before because they DIDN'T KNOW HOW.  With tools like Coursera, TED talks, SlideShare, and so many others, they are learning how to launch and compete.  This is great news for the whole planet.

2.  Despite the fact that we held GES in Silicon Valley and all of the big keynote speakers were internet company CEOs, the focus on important offline innovation in such areas as agriculture, medicine, home building, drinking water, and more was exciting to see this year.  We have to teach people that the word "entrepreneurs" simply means "problem solver", not "website or app developer".

3.  The key to success for global entrepreneurship is CONNECTIVITY.  These people need help, and building networks of people to connect to each other and help each other is more important than it has ever been.  We can all be part of this solution.


On Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 12:52 PM, Robert Cohen <> wrote:



I agree with you on your optimism. I find your comments are enormously interesting. These advances might have a far more positive impact on economic development than many expect.



I would love to get them to interact with I4J.  The media is missing this "movement" because they only cover the big, Silicon Valley funded startups and sexy tech companies.  They don't get down in the dirt where the action is, which is where I have spent the last three years.

Maybe we get a globally diverse small group of these entrepreneurs on a Zoom chat or Google Hangout where we can hear their thoughts, ask what they need, and have a live Q&A?

Might there be a way to help these people interact with I4J?


Perhaps Philip and Byron could add some of their reaction to the GES.




Monday, June 27, 2016

Humane Management

David Nordfors :- 
Say hello to JC Spender and David Hurst, who are new to this forum. We had a great discussion just now about the future of the firm and management. JC says judgement weighs more than decisions and David says renewal is the only maintenance that works (did I get that right?). Richard Straub’s Drucker Forum 2015  was about claiming our humanity while managing in the digital age. Steve has been attacking the inhuman corporate philosophy and Curt has demonstrated in real life how to make an innovative company successful by treating people like human beings.

So why isn’t it getting better by now? Or is it getting better?
And can the gig economy be helpful in some waY

What do you think?


From Curt

First welcome. 

David, that is a great question.  Why isn't it getting better in spite of all that has been tried.  The NAE study I am on to make recommendations about US RD&I policy is asking the same question. 

Obviously a complicated question but in an exponential world if you want to win you need a faster exponential.  The only one I know of is being better at innovation--in the short term.  Long term might that make things worse. 

We are watching in real time tens of millions of jobs go away: driverless cars and trucks, automated toll takers, answering services, bank tellers, manufacturing workers, etc.  If it is bad for us imagine developing countries where these are the bootstrapping jobs to an advanced economy.

From JC Spender 
Reminds me of Ha-Joon Chang’s fine book:

if we say new technology is kicking away the traditional ladders to economic advancement in developing countries.  Instead of outsourcing to, say, Bangladesh, we are going to be outsourcing to sheds full of automata.  Though my HBR piece on AI applies.

Regards, JC

Hi Curt and JC 

Curt, innovation is the key and exponential economy is how the old replaces the new. JC, you make the point that innovation is about replacing people. 

How is the state of innovation for humane management? Who are the leaders in this and is there policy for supporting it?



On Mon, Jun 27, 2016 at 3:11 PM, CurtCarlson <> wrote:
Another great question.  All over but not as a movement yet.  In my experience you find them mostly in university programs giving students new skills.  And of course not all innovation is about replacing people

The problems start at the top.

See for instance President Obama's interview in the currrent Bloomberg Businessweek: 
"There are a number of banking CEOs, including somebody like a Jamie Dimon, who I think are smart and are outstanding businesspeople, but they have different roles to play. Their job is to serve their shareholders, maximize profits..."


Time that President Obama read Peter Drucker: "There is only one valid purpose of a business, to create a customer." (1954).

Steve Denning
Forbes blog: 


Right.  We call getting this right the “Value Balance.”  Yes it starts with the customer (what else could it be?) but there must also be an appropriate value proposition for the shareholders, employees, the company, and the community. “Either or” thinking gets people in trouble.  It is “and.”  They all must be in balance.  So much in life is “and."

Ivan Kaye

Peter Druckers reason for a business - "There is only one valid purpose of a business, to create a customer." (1954).

Obama's role of a CEO - "Their job is to serve their shareholders, maximize profits..."

I reckon that if the CEO guides his team to live by your pulse and values - and you have a set of behaviours that guide you, the customers will come and so will the profits!

- Our pulse.... To creat generational legacies
- How - by giving clear objective advice
- The objective - to become your indispensable business partner
- Our behaviours we strive for:- TREAT Trust, Respect, Energetic, Adventurous and Team First!
- Our team is measured by how they live up to the required behaviours! 

It seems simple but has taken us 2 years to define and work towards! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Man on moon says "good luck mr Gorsky... Who Is Mr. Gorsky?


Sunday, June 19, 2016


Interesting article shared by a golf buddy - quite nervous about the future! 

In 1998, Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide. Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they went bankrupt. What happened to Kodak will happen in a lot of industries in the next 10 years - and most people don't see it coming.

Did you think in 1998 that 3 years later you would never take pictures on paper film again? Yet digital cameras were invented in 1975. The first ones only had 10,000 pixels, but followed Moore's law. So as with all exponential technologies, it was a disappointment for a long time, before it became way superior and got mainstream in only a few short years. It will now happen with Artificial Intelligence, health, autonomous and electric cars, education, 3D printing, agriculture and jobs. Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution. Welcome to the Exponential Age.

Software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years.
Uber is just a software tool, they don't own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world. Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don't own any properties.

Artificial Intelligence
Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected. In the US, young lawyers already don't get jobs. Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans. So if you study law, stop immediately. There will be 90% fewer lawyers in the future, only specialists will remain. 

Watson already helps nurses diagnosing cancer, 4 time more accurate than human nurses. Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans. By 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans.

Autonomous Cars: 
In 2018 the first self-driving cars will appear for the public. Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted. 

You don't want to own a car anymore. You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving. Our kids will never get a driver's license and will never own a car. It will change the cities, because we will need 90-95% fewer cars for that. We can transform former parking space into parks. 1.2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 100,000 km, with autonomous driving that will drop to one accident in 10 million km. That will save a million lives each year.

Most car companies may become bankrupt. Traditional car companies try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels. I spoke to a lot of engineers from Volkswagen and Audi; they are completely terrified of Tesla.

Insurance Companies will have massive trouble because without accidents, the insurance will become 100x cheaper. Their car insurance business model will disappear.

Real estate will change. Because if you can work while you commute, people will move further away to live in a more beautiful neighborhood.

Electric cars won’t become mainstream until 2020. Cities will be less noisy because all cars will run on electric. 

Electricity will become incredibly cheap and clean: Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but you can only now see the impact. Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil. The price for solar will drop so much that all coal companies will be out of business by 2025.

With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water. Desalination now only needs 2kWh per cubic meter. We don't have scarce water in most places, we only have scarce drinking water. Imagine what will be possible if anyone can have as much clean water as he wants, for nearly no cost.

There will be companies that will build a medical device (called the "Tricorder" from Star Trek) that works with your phone, which takes your retina scan, your blood sample and you breathe into it. It then analyses 54 biomarkers that will identify nearly any disease. It will be cheap, so in a few years everyone on this planet will have access to world class medicine, nearly for free.

3D printing: 
The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from $18,000 to $400 within 10 years. In the same time, it became 100 times faster. All major shoe companies started 3D printing shoes. Spare airplane parts are already 3D printed in remote airports. The space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large number of spare parts they used to have in the past.

At the end of this year, new smart phones will have 3D scanning possibilities. You can then 3D scan your feet and print your perfect shoe at home. In China, they already 3D printed a complete 6-storey office building. By 2027, 10% of everything that's being produced will be 3D printed.

Business Opportunities
If you think of a niche you want to go in, ask yourself: "in the future, do you think we will have that?" and if the answer is yes, how can you make that happen sooner? If it doesn't work with your phone, forget the idea. And any idea designed for success in the 20th century is doomed in to failure in the 21st century.

Work: 70-80% of jobs will disappear in the next 20 years. There will be a lot of new jobs, but it is not clear if there will be enough new jobs in such a small time.

There will be a $100 agricultural robot in the future. Farmers in 3rd world countries can then become managers of their field instead of working all days on their fields. Agroponics will need much less water. The first Petri dish produced veal is now available and will be cheaper than cow-produced veal in 2018. Right now, 30% of all agricultural surfaces is used for cows. Imagine if we don't need that space anymore. There are several startups that will bring insect protein to the market shortly. It contains more protein than meat. It will be labeled as "alternative protein source" (because most people still reject the idea of eating insects).

There is an app called "moodies" which can already tell in which mood you are. Until 2020 there will be apps that can tell by your facial expressions if you are lying. Imagine a political debate where it's being displayed when they are telling the truth and when not.

Bitcoin will become mainstream this year and might even become the default reserve currency.

Right now, the average life span increases by 3 months per year. Four years ago, the life span used to be 79 years, now it's 80 years. The increase itself is increasing and by 2036, there will be more than one year increase per year. So we all might live for a long long time, probably way more than 100.

The cheapest smart phones are already at $10 in Africa and Asia. Until 2020, 70% of all humans will own a smart phone. That means, everyone has the same access to world class education.

Robert M. Goldman MD, PhD, DO, FAASP
World Chairman-International Medical Commission
Co-Founder & Chairman of the Board-A4M
Founder & Chairman-International Sports Hall of Fame
Co-Founder & Chairman-World Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine
President Emeritus-National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
Chairman-U.S. Sports Academy’s Board of Visitors

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Global Entrepreneutial Summit 22-24 June - in Palo Alto

On June 22-24, entrepreneurs and leaders are coming together in Silicon Valley to learn, connect, and build for the future of entrepreneurship around the globe. We’ll be selecting submissions to feature at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit and on Google for Entrepreneurs’ social channels.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Staying lucky - Australia can

Australia has a fine history of invention and innovation, with ideas ranging from the stump jump plough and Hills hoist through to Jira , Wireless ,the flight data recorder and Cochlear ear implants change the world.

(Watch this space re the bionic Eye - follow Nigel Lovell)

Cochlear itself forms the centre of an Australian hearing technology hub at Macquarie University which brings together university researchers, private sector R&D and some of the world’s best medical specialists to form a globally competitive centre of excellence. We can do great things.

Remaining lucky in the 21st Century is going to take more than riding on the back of sheep, the end of coal train or surfing the wave of easy credit that crashed over our economy in the 25 years after 1990. 

We are going to have to be (and indeed we are smart, canny and adventurous.

Australians have shown they can grasp opportunities and with government policies that favour innovation over speculation, investment over ticket clipping, a business community that pulls its weight in research and a community that values education at all levels we can do it.

So yes, Innovation can save Australia but we as a nation have to be prepared to work at it and change many of our current ways of thinking.

(Commentary inspired from

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Vital Lessons on Disruption From the Demise of Corporate Giants

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This post is about how to not to be disrupted and, perhaps more importantly, how to disrupt yourself before someone else does.

I had the chance to sit down with Ed McNierney, who came out of Lotus 1-2-3 and ran digital strategy at Kodak. Over the years, he has learned a lot from both Lotus and Kodak’s failures.

Ed brings 30 years of wide-ranging technology expertise to the table — and he’s seen a lot of unintended disruption.

Who Is Ed McNierney?

In the late 1980s, Ed led the development of Lotus 1-2-3 for Windows in an attempt to compete with the highly disruptive Microsoft Excel (I’ll share the full story in a minute).

A few years later, he ended up leading digital strategy at Kodak. He didn’t last long; Ed left when he experienced firsthand Kodak’s unwillingness to change, rapidly racing into a brick wall of bankruptcy in 2012.

He’s been through several “disruptions” in his own right and has learned a lot along the way.

We’ll get into the do’s and don’ts from Ed’s experience in a minute — but first, a bit of history and context about Lotus and Kodak.

History — Context Around Lotus and Kodak

In the 80s, Lotus was the Google of its day — it was the software company.

Its core product, Lotus 1-2-3, was the killer app: it was the reason people bought PCs.

In parallel, Lotus saw that Microsoft was developing Windows and another product called Excel.

The Lotus team saw the incoming threat of Windows, but thought if they ignored Windows and didn’t build apps for it, everyone else would stay away from Windows, too.

Instead, their biggest customers — Procter and Gamble, Exxon and Shell, among others — thought differently. They were leaving Lotus and going to Windows/Excel.

Then Lotus rushed to bring a product to market.

But they made a fatal mistake: instead of looking only forward, they made their product entirely backwards compatible, or compatible with their past.

Meanwhile, Microsoft focused 100 percent on building a great Windows spreadsheet, compatibility be damned.

Lotus’ strategy didn’t work. They couldn’t keep up. Complete disruption.

The company was ultimately acquired by IBM in 1995 and, today, no longer has a product line.

Now, let’s look at Kodak:

Shortly after Ed left Lotus, he joined Kodak as its VP of Digital Strategy. This was 1996, the heyday of Kodak. Kodak had a $28 billion market cap and 140,000 employees.

In 1976, 20 years earlier, Kodak had invented the digital camera. They owned the IP and had the first mover advantage. This is a company that should have owned it all.

Instead, in 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy, put out of business by the very technology they had invented. What happened?

Kodak was married to the “paper and chemicals” (film development) business… their most profitable division, while the R&D on digital cameras was a cost center.

They saw the digital world coming on, but were convinced that digital cameras wouldn’t have traction outside of the professional market.

They certainly had the expertise to design and build consumer digital cameras — Kodak actually built the Apple QuickTake (see photo), generally considered the world’s first consumer digital camera.

Ed McNierney holding Apple QuickTake (by Kodak)

Ed McNierney holding Apple QuickTake (by Kodak).

Amazingly, Kodak decided they didn’t even want to put their name on the camera.

What happened next? The “digital movement” decimated them… they simply couldn’t keep up and, as mentioned, filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

Graph - Photos Taken Each Year

It’s difficult to create change in a large organization steeped in tradition, and even harder to disrupt yourself when you’re cranking out cash the way Kodak was.

But you have to disrupt yourself, or someone else will.

During his time at Lotus and Kodak, Ed learned a lot about what not to do.

Here are eight things you shouldn’t do if you want to avoid disruption.

Eight Don’ts — How Not To Be Disrupted

  1. Don’t close out your options too early: For Kodak, they decided they weren’t going to be in the digital camera business. As a result, they stopped devoting resources to digital before it was too late. Don’t eliminate new products, new markets and new opportunities from your possible pipeline.
  2. Don’t be tied to your history: As Ed relayed, “You have way more ahead of you than behind you…bringing the dead weight of your legacy from your past into the future can be detrimental to the business.” Just because Kodak was in the paper-and-chemicals business doesn’t mean they can’t be something else.
  3. Don’t be overly attached to your existing business: All existing products/services will be disrupted, and revenues will eventually go to zero. Don’t be attached to them. You have to move with technology and the market. This is hardest when you are profitable, like Kodak. You must be aware that you’re most vulnerable when you’re doing well.
  4. Don’t ignore the signals: Ed mentioned, “It’s easy to see that little disruptive force on the horizon and think to yourself, 'Boy I hope that thing goes away,' or, 'I hope if I ignore that, it’s just not going to happen.' Don’t ignore them. Your biggest threats are probably in the deceptive phrase.
  5. Don’t be tentative: Kodak built the first digital camera. But they were tentative. They didn’t want to put their name on it. Don’t be tentative; be bold. Don’t play defense — spend money on accelerating (we’ll get to this in a second).
  6. Don’t say, “We can’t do X because it is not the way we do things”: “It’s not the way we do it” is never a good enough argument NOT to try something new…
  7. Don’t worry about the big guys: When looking at potential disruptions, don’t worry about the big companies. They are usually (with some exceptions) slow-moving and tentative, ironically enough (see Kodak and Lotus). Instead, you should be worrying about the small guys in a garage. They have nothing to lose. Try to find them…invest in them, partner with them or hire them.
  8. Don’t fret! You are fighting against billions of years of human evolution. We have evolved to be linear thinkers. Just keep trying to innovate and avoid doing the things above. And keep reading.

Now let’s talk about a few things you CAN do to disrupt yourself.

Six Do’s of Disruption: How to Disrupt Yourself

  1. Disrupt your adjacencies: It’s hard to disrupt yourself; few companies have ever done this. So instead, try to disrupt your suppliers and/or your customers. You can disrupt your suppliers by vertically integrating and building business around the systems that power your existing business. You can disrupt your customers by looking at the other products and services they are already using and build better ones. Apple, Amazon and Google are all great at both of these.
  2. Build the best products, or get a piece of them: The best product wins. Either build the best product in your category, or if you can’t, find a way to get a piece of the best one.
  3. Be agile: Agility is everything. Make sure you have the right culture and people to support agility. Oftentimes organizations have an immune response to new innovations — instead, try to make innovation and change a part of your culture.
  4. Watch your customers, then listen to them: It sounds intuitive, but it’s not. As Ed mentioned, Lotus saw that their customers were switching to Excel. Then they heard them say they preferred it. And yet they didn’t do much about it. Your customers are your lifeblood. Listen to them and adapt to them.
  5. Build a Skunkworks: Ed mentioned, “I would have loved to have had a business inside Kodak whose job it was to totally destroy the core business.” I’ve talked about this idea before — you need to create a safe, secure place for innovation to happen.
  6. Have an abundance mindset: As Ed puts it, “There is more ahead of you than behind you.” Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself.

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