True Transparency

I hear a lot of companies toss it around – a buzz word like “web 2.0” and “organic.” Think you’re transparent? Call me crazy, but the following things mean “transparent” to me:

  • Total access to numbers and data
  • Public punishment and public reward
  • Open doors (or none at all)
  • No hierarchy, only leadership
  • Forgiveness, not permission
  • Strong communication
  • Free-flowing ideas

While company culture stands to benefit from it, transparency may not work for everyone. Apple is doing just fine without it. If you cannot accept the list above, do not pretend to embrace transparency.

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Live Performance

If you want to connect with your audience, you must share a room with your audience. You must get up on stage and entertain. Campaigning politicians and rock stars learned this a long time ago. Beyond entertainment alone, a successful live performance can communitize the audience around your personal brand. Everyone sharing a room together will feel apart of a big family, a family with your surname. Audience applause and energy are contagious; spread adoration for you and your product by collecting or streaming as many fans as possible into one room.

Unlike Netflix’s Reed Hastings, Steve Jobs never hid behind the veil of a press release or blog post. He stood on stage, fielded questions without fear, and put on a live show. I am convinced Apple succeeded on the foundations of its audience’s oohs and aahs at these keynote events. I am convinced Apple advanced forward because Steve Jobs knew how to put on a show. The collective power of audience intrigue spreads like a virus, and that intrigue can only be fostered in person and en masse.

If you want to build a brand, learn to overcome stage fright and put on a great show. This goes for anyone trying to make an impression on the market or on the world. You must show your face to the crowd.

Side note: one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen in person happens every Sunday night in Santa Monica. If you haven’t already, all Angelinos you must check out The Toledo Show – a “Cabaret Funk” band that performs every Sunday night 9pm at the classic Harvelle’s. $10 cover, two-part set until around 1am, totally worth every minute. The new definition of “cool.” Thank you, Adam Speas, for introducing it to me.

Thank You, Steve

Thank you for empowering the arts, challenging the competition, and never giving up. You were, without question, the decade’s great visionary, artist, teacher, and leader. You gave your life to your work and to the world. I have learned a lot from you and will no doubt continue to do so as your legacy lives on. Rest in peace.

New iPhone Summary

For my readers who are not plugged into tech news every waking minute, here is a quick overview of Apple’s keynote this morning. No big surprises in Cupertino today:

iPhone 4S

  • No iPhone 5 yet, mostly performance enhancements: improved processing (A5 chip, 2x faster than before), graphics (dual-core, 7x faster than before), battery life, and download speeds (14.4 MBps).
  • Improved camera: eight megapixel, 3264 x 2448 resolution, 73% more light, faster capture speed, Hybrid IR filter for more accurate color and uniformity, sharper lens elements, wider aperture, face detection, and better white balance.
  • 1080p HD video camera with image stabilization, noise reduction.
  • The phone will be a GSM / CDMA hybrid, working on Verizon, AT&T, or Sprint.
  • AirPlay Mirroring: mirror your iPhone on television sets, wired or wireless.

The most notable announcement was the iPhone integration with Siri, a personal voice recognition assistant. Hold the home button on the iPhone and Siri will listen. Ask her anything you want, and she will return information, a search query, schedule a meeting, send a text message, set an alarm, perform a function on your phone, and more. She can also dictate for you. Siri was started as an iOS app in December 2007 and acquired by Apple in early 2010. Nothing new here.

Pre-orders for the iPhone 4S start Friday. The phone will be available October 14th in black or white casing. Pricing as followings (with a two-year contract): $199 16GB, $299 32GB, and $399 64GB.

Other Announcements

  • Cards App: make your own greeting cards, $2.99 per card
  • iPod Nano improvements to the fitness experience and timekeeping faces (Nano = your future watch)
  • iCloud will launch October 12th
  • Find My Friends feature: similar to Google Latitude, anyone on a GPS enabled Apple device can open their location up to contacts and share where they are. It is unclear how integrated this feature will be.

Overall? Underwhelmed. The iPhone 4S met none of my needs for a next-generation phone, except perhaps performance enhancements. This new model will no doubt outsell the rest, but I’m not sold yet.

My Next Smartphone

A challenge to the smartphone market: I expect my next smartphone to have three things:

  1. Near Field Communication (NFC) for mobile transactions
  2. 4G data connection
  3. Quad-core Processor (minimum Dual-core processor)

I am putting my money on NFC (no pun intended) and the future of mobile transactions. I also expect the hardware to help streamline user interface interaction and application processes. Until these expectations are met, I will stick with my aged BlackBerry Bold 9650. I will likely invest in the first device that meets these standards.

Bring it on, Apple and Samsung!

How to Track Your Sleep And Earn A Better Night’s Rest

The key to a higher quality life is through self assessment. To improve performance, break habits and adjust personal behavior, one must quantify his or her life with gadgets, apps and spreadsheets that help track personal trends and identify areas for improvement. I am very much on board with the Quantified Self school of thought. I maintain spreadsheets galore.

I have never been able to track my sleep in spreadsheets. Why? Well, because I am asleep.

Enter Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock. My friends Drew and Nicole introduced me to this rather handy iOS application that graphs your sleep phases. Place your iPod or iPhone on the bed next to you at night and the accelerometer will monitor your every move to determine which phase of sleep you are in. The main purpose behind the app is to wake you during your lightest sleep phase where you feel rested and relaxed (in a specified time range rather than a hard alarm time), but I have found it more useful for the sleep graphs.

Sleep Cycle Graph

Above, my graph from Friday – went to bed at 1:40am, woke up at 9:59am and slept a total of 8 hours and 19 minutes (believe it or not, college friends – I actually sleep now!).

With only a week of data, I can already see trends. I am taking notes on pre-sleep activity, successful bed times, successful waking times and more. Apparently, a glass of wine within an hour of bedtime has helped me to sleep quicker. Uh oh!

Keep track and you can unlock self improvement.

An Interesting Statistic About iPhone Users

While backing up my BlackBerry yesterday, I analyzed my SMS history and discovered something noteworthy.

91% of my texting contacts with iPhones (76 total) take an average 48% longer to respond to my texts than the rest of my texting contacts.

I blame this on iPhone’s notification layout or AT&T’s service.  I’d rather not blame my friends for being lame.