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Joe Wikert
I'm Chief Operating Officer at OSV (www.osv.com)
Interests: Hockey, baseball, football, science and technology
Recent Activity
How many times have you found an interesting article on the web but you have no time to read it? This happens to me every day and despite the variety of save-for-later reading tools out there they all tend to fade into the background and I forget to go back and read what I've saved for later. When I saw this article on Springwise I immediately took a closer look at the solution it described. The article talks about how a "web browser extension transforms saved articles into podcasts." It turns out this extension is like many others; it simply does a text-to-speech conversion and creates an MP3 file. IOW, there's no connection to a podcast stream. So although the conversion produces impressive human-sounding results (click here to listen to my previous article), it falls short of the promise of transforming anything into a podcast stream. This seems like a potentially enormous opportunity and gap for someone to fill. Imagine a one-click solution that truly gathers all your saved articles into a stream for your favorite podcast platform. What if that system eventually became so popular that audio ads could be injected dynamically, creating an income source? OK, yes, there would be a number of IP rights issues to potentially overcome but I could also see a model where that revenue stream is shared with the IP owner, alleviating that legal issue. Another interesting feature would be where I could follow others and listen to the articles they curated in their feed; as we've seen with other platforms, those with the biggest following also earn some sort of affiliate income. There are loads of possibilities here and it's all about transforming the written word into audio for broader consumption. If something like this already exists please let me know. I'd use it every single day and I'm sure there are millions of others out there who would do the same. It's also one of those rare problems where I'd gladly pay a reasonable price to solve. Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2020 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
Amazon's recent Watch Party announcement sheds light on what the future holds for digital content consumption. It's primitive, yes, but a step in the right direction. To summarize, Watch Party lets two people watch a movie together even though they're not in the same location. The first version limits interactions to texts and emojis but you can bet a future version will support video on both ends so you can make faces and feel closer together. With Alexa (and Prime) Amazon has built an incredible platform for on-demand content which can be simultaneously enjoyed by multiple people regardless of location. Podcasts are a great example. There have been a number of times when I wanted to listen to one with my wife when I was probably driving home but she wasn't in the car with me. Today I'm forced to stop and wait till we're together. In the future imagine using nothing but voice commands to tell the podcast to pause, see if my wife wants to join me, then play it for both of us to enjoy remotely. Now a channel is open for us to listen, pause, comment to each other, etc., as if we're both listening in my car. Take it a step further and think about longer-form learning. What if two or three people want to take a course together, listening and/or watching, over an Alexa-powered Zoom-like communication platform where, again, pausing, commenting, etc., is all enabled via audio commands. Thanks to a powerful search on the back side of this you're always able to pause and ask for a deeper dive on any topic that comes up. I realize a great deal of the learning process takes place in solitude. That means textbooks don't necessarily go away but voice UI and synchronized platforms like Watch Party will undoubtedly lead to new options for learning as well as entertainment. Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2020 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
The next time you do a web search take an extra moment to see how the paid results compare to the top organic results. Sometimes the top link is the same for both. This article, from the authors of The Power of Experiments, drives it home with this excerpt: “Evidently, users who Googled ‘eBay’ (or another eBay-related search term), who had been clicking on the ad because they saw no reason to scroll down to the organic link just below it, were now instead clicking on the first organic search result. For these searchers, eBay essentially swapped in free organic clicks for each advertising click lost,” explain Luca and Bazerman. “In other words, much of the money eBay was shelling out to Google each year was a waste.” After the results of these experiments were published, 11 percent of large companies that were buying search ads in the same way as eBay discontinued that advertising. It reminds me of that classic quote: "Half my marketing spend is wasted...I just don't know which half." More importantly, it illustrates the need to continuously monitor and analyze data, all the while maintaining a strong culture of curious experimentation. I wonder how much of Google's income is derived from advertisers who never bother asking if their high organic ranking might perform just was well as the results they're paying for... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2020 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
This pandemic is having an immediate effect on almost every job and it's likely to have a longer-lasting impact in the years ahead. There's plenty of speculation around this topic but this article from Lynda Gratton in MIT Sloan Management Review is one of the most insightful ones I've read. The author refers to a survey response she got from one CEO who said their mantra is "React, respond, rebuild." It reminds me of the agile approach to software development and one of the keys to both is flexibility. She outlines three types of job categories and provides valuable prescriptive advice for each. The most challenging one is the last one, which she describes as being "non-routine and highly collaborative, with an innovation aspect" and her example is a product developer. A huge hole for this role is the serendipity that's disappeared thanks to all the work which now takes place remotely. Those chance encounters almost never happen these days but that sounds like a business opportunity for a bright, creative technologist who can come up with a way to fill the void... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2020 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
When the Spotify-Joe Rogan news hit last week I wondered again about Amazon's role in podcasting. Sure, you can ask your Alexa device to play the latest edition of just about any podcast but is Amazon only looking to act as a pass-through agent, serving up streams from Apple? If the latest rumors are any indication, the answer is no. It appears Amazon doesn't want to simply enter the podcast market...they want to totally disrupt it. The local content angle may seem somewhat narrow at first but think about the possibilities. Amazon certainly has the resources to curate the best of the best as well as fund development of new local content while newspapers, local TV, et al, are declining. And if I'm going to Amazon for my local podcast content I'm also shifting all my non-local podcast subscriptions to their one app/service as well. All of this, btw, will be accessible through the countless Alexa devices in all our homes (and ears, as my Bluetooth earbuds are also Alexa-enabled). The most interesting element of this Amazon podcasting story is the advertising angle. Most of the ads I hear in podcasts today are still very mainstream, trying to cast as wide a net as possible. That's why 99% of those ads don't resonate with me. Amazon, however, is loaded with data about my preferences, buying habits and more. They're uniquely positioned to serve up programmatic advertising for an audience of one: you. That doesn't exist in the podcast world today but it definitely will tomorrow. Advertising engagement and conversions would both be exceptionally high in this environment. And if you like what you hear, buying/subscribing/opting-in to whatever the ad is promoting will be as easy as saying, "Alexa, sign me up for..." This model makes privacy advocates cringe, of course, but it's also likely to create an entirely new ecosystem of streaming content driving significantly more revenue for plenty of parties, not just Amazon. Continue reading
Posted May 27, 2020 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
A former colleague of mine recently mentioned that her current employer, MITSloan Management Review (MMR), was offering a free 60-day pass to their entire site. I've read a number of articles since then and wanted to pass that link along to you as well. More importantly, I also discovered that the MMR has assembled a collection of very timely articles about disruption that they're also offering as a free downloadable PDF (courtesy of Deloitte). If you click here you'll be asked to give your name and email address to Deloitte but I think you'll find the content well worth that personal info. Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2020 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
When I first met Henrik Werdelin he was a founding partner of Prehype, a "collective of entrepreneurial people who help each other build new ventures." My employer at that time had an agreement with Prehype to help us ideate and develop a new strategy for the organization's future. I always came away from those meetings with Henrik feeling both inspired and challenged; he forced us to look at our business in a completely new way. When I learned that Henrik recently published a book called The Acorn Method: How Companies Get Growing Again, I immediately bought the e-version and started reading. I encourage you to buy a copy as well -- you won't be disappointed. This quote from one of the first few pages provides the main concept behind the book: I believe mature companies are like tall trees; they grow until gravity constrains them. They may shoot up rapidly, generating tiers of new branches and reaching great heights, but eventually, new growth can no longer successfully compete for resources with older branches higher up the tree. The Acorn Method is a very quick read and, if you're like me, you'll end up with plenty of highlighted pages and notes to follow-up on. Highly recommended. Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2020 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
I'm a big fan of Simon Sinek and especially his latest book, The Infinite Game. This short video helps put the coronavirus in perspective as well as encourage all of us to think about the opportunities which await us in recovery and beyond. Enjoy. Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2020 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
Many of us would probably say that we and our businesses operate in a world of scarcity, where my gain is at my competitor's expense. That's why it's so refreshing to read a story like this one from FastCompany, Why we opened our pandemic-born delivery platform to competitors. Despite the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program there are going to be countless businesses that never reopen. Some of them could probably be saved if that segment's business community worked together, rather than in opposition, like that Maryland brewing company from the FastCompany article has done. How might this work in your business segment? I realize I need to step back and start viewing others more as possible collaboration partners rather than competitors. More importantly, I need to start asking a simple question when I speak with each of them going forward: What can I do, and what might my employer be able to do, to help provide some lift for your operation? Who knows where those conversations might lead... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2020 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
I can't remember who recommended this book but I'm glad they did. I'm talking about Experimentation Works by Stefan H. Thomke. The subtitle sums it up quite well: The surprising power of business experiments. I'm still fairly early in this one but here are a few of my favorite highlights so far: At Booking.com all employees can define a hypothesis and launch an experiment on millions of users without permission from management. Even though the business world glorifies disruptive ideas, most progress is achieved by implementing hundreds or thousands of minor improvements that can have a big cumulative impact. The serendipitous breakthroughs may be more likely to occur when managers are clear that understanding what does not work is as important as learning what does. True experimentation organizations not only appreciate surprises, they cherish and capitalize on them. I encourage you to take a few minutes to stop and think about each of those points individually. I'm particularly hung up on the last one. Why? Like a lot of people, I tend to view surprises as bad, mostly. An experiment that doesn't turn out the way I expected it to means I didn't know as much as I thought I did. I need to get past that though and embrace those surprises as the author suggests. The book can feel overly academic at times as you'll sometimes think you're stuck in the middle of a textbook. If you skim through those sections and focus exclusively on the company success and failure stories I'm confident you'll find it worth the price of admission. Continue reading
Posted Apr 22, 2020 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
I love this article from Fast Company which talks about how libraries are offering drive-up wifi access from their parking lot. It's a great example of how a necessity is indeed the mother of invention. But let's face it: while I applaud this effort, as well as those buses driving around with wifi service, it seems there's a disruptive alternative which could go much further. One of the problems with schools being closed is that some families don't have broadband connections so their children are unable to participate in e-learning. It's a problem plaguing both urban and rural families. And although it helps, driving to the local library isn't a viable solution. Our family plan with AT&T provides us with 2 Gigs of downloads from their cellular network. When we exceed that ceiling we're charged $10 for every Gig above two. As we continue working through the current crisis our family would gladly offer to pay for several Gigs worth of download capacity if it's going to a good cause. And by "good cause", I'm talking about those families with children who are unable to get online today. You're probably familiar with those little hotspot devices you can use on the road for a reliable web connection. How about this, AT&T, et al?: You guys make wifi hotspot devices available to needy families (at no cost) and customers like us subsidize the monthly fees? Let me opt in and just tack it onto my monthly bill, the same way you somehow manage to do with other obscure charges. Your brand (AT&T, Verizon, etc.) would benefit nicely from this as well. How about it?... Continue reading
Posted Apr 20, 2020 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
I spent almost eight years working remotely before joining my current employer in 2016. I learned a lot from that experience including the importance of maintaining a presence when not on site. Much of the world has suddenly been forced to shift to remote working conditions and it's exposed a lot of problems which might never have surfaced if not for the coronavirus. As we work through this unusual period it's important to consider how this experience should affect our work life during and after the recovery, when we're all heading back into the office. For example, are there positions which could very easily operate remotely and, in fact, maybe should? If you or your employer weren't that open-minded about remote work before is it possible you're starting to see some of the benefits? How about the morale boost which sometimes accompanies remote work? I'm talking about eliminating commute time and therefore helping employees feel they were more productive today than yesterday. Over the past few weeks I've discovered that although my own commute (approximately 75 minutes each way) can sometimes get a bit old I'm looking forward to heading back into our office soon; I didn't realize how much I enjoy spending time face-to-face with colleagues, so that was a valuable discovery. In other cases the solution might be something in between remote and on-site. Maybe three days in the office and two remotely each week. I had been doing one day remote per week earlier this year and found that I was infinitely more productive that one day than I was the other four, so it helped me balance my day-to-day activities. The key here is to learn as much as possible today and make adjustments as conditions permit. Plus, by maintaining some number of remote employees you dramatically reduce the likelihood of being surprised when you try to quickly cobble together a collection of virtual work solutions all at once (e.g., video calls, cloud-based file storage/sharing, etc.). Don't forget the possibility that this is just Part One of the journey, especially if the virus rears its ugly head again later this year. Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2020 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
I decided to read Secrets of Sand Hill Road after hearing an author interview on one of my favorite podcasts. The VC market can be so mysterious and this book helped bring clarity to many aspects of the startup fundraising process. Here are just a few of the many excerpts I highlighted along the way: Most VCs assume that the product that is initially conceived of and pitched is not likely the product that will ultimately prevail. Max Planck, German scientist, put it best by saying "Science advances one funeral at a time." Simply put, it's hard to get people to adopt new technologies. Products are either vitamins (nice to have) or aspirins (need to have); VCs want to fund aspirins. How much money should you raise? The answer is to raise as much money as you can that enables you to safely achieve the key milestones you will need for the next fund-raising. If you allow yourself or a VC to overvalue the company at the current round, then you have just raised the stakes for what it will take to clear that valuation bar for the next round and get paid for the progress you have made. VCs love infinite learners. Companies are definitely staying private longer, resulting in more of the appreciation of startups going to those investors in the private markets, at the expense of those in the public markets. [Beware of becoming] the most advanced dinosaur, where you may think you look differentiated relative to others but are at risk of being the last generation in the evolutionary chain... Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2019 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
Curiosity. It's the single most important characteristic I look for when interviewing someone. Does that mean I don't care about experience, character, etc.? Of course I do, but I believe a high level of curiosity is what distinguishes the top performers from the rest of the team. That's why I was intrigued when reading this article from MIT Sloan Management Review. Yes, it feels overly academic at times, but it hits on the critical points. I also love a couple of phrases used in it. First, "incurably curious." Yes! That's what we need more of. Second, "catalytic learning capability", which sounds like part of your car's exhaust system. How incurably curious are you? How about your team? There are countless indicators to show where someone is on this scale and I think a few of them are (1) being a voracious reader, (2) always asking "why?", and (3) being a great listener who's willing to alter their stance on a topic as they learn more. Don't underestimate the importance of that third point, btw. Some would interpret that as a flip-flopper but I think it shows you're open-minded, not set in your ways and willing to learn. Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2019 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
Several smart people I follow have talked about reading a book called Loonshots, by Safi Bahcall, so I figured I better have a look. It's a great read that's loaded with interesting stories and provocative perspectives. I still have about 60 pages to go but I've already learned about how radar was almost completely overlooked as a breakthrough technology, why Pan Am is no more and how Polaroid met its demise. You might think you already know most, if not all, of these stories but I promise you the author presents new information you probably never previously heard or considered. The most intriguing part of the book is where he talks about The Moses Trap: [The Moses Trap is] when ideas advance only at the pleasure of a holy leader -- rather than the balanced exchange of ideas and feedback between soldiers in the field and creatives at the bench selecting loonshots on merit -- that is exactly when teams and companies get trapped. The leader raises his staff and parts the seas to make way for the chosen loonshot. The dangerous virtuous cycle spins faster and faster: loonshot feeds franchise feeds bigger, faster, more. The all-powerful leader begins acting for love of loonshots rather than strength of strategy. And then the wheel turns one too many times. Bahcall distinguishes between what he refers to as P-type and S-type loonshots. The former is product-based whereas the latter is strategy-based. The S-types are similar to the examples Clay Christensen refers to in my favorite business book, The Innovator's Dilemma, which is probably another reason why I've thoroughly enjoyed Loonshots. Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2019 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
One answer is when you apply it in a completely different business segment. Thanks to my new favorite business podcast, Snacks Daily, I learned that the MoviePass all-you-can-watch model, which is circling the drain, is being embraced by the NY Mets in a new subscription campaign offering standing-room-only (SRO) access to almost every home game. That's brilliant. Why? For most MLB teams, revenue is not just about filling seats but also selling high-margin concessions. MoviePass is failing partially because the theaters are beholden to the movie studios. Bring the model to an entirely new business and it could flourish. In this case, there's almost no incremental cost in admitting a few thousand additional fans to the game; the same number of gate attendants are probably still required whether attendance is 20K or 23K. The likelihood of cannibalizing higher-priced seat tickets seems low so it looks like a smart way to bring more fans to the game as well as make money off over-priced sodas, hotdogs, hats, etc. It's interesting to think about other failed business models which might have potential in new categories. I expect other teams to follow the Mets' lead, even beyond MLB. Although many of those SRO fans will probably end up sneaking into an empty seat, is that really a bad thing? Empty seats are an embarrassment on a TV broadcast and this model should help reduce the number of vacancies, even though that's not the primary stated mission. It might also lead to more casual fans stopping by, taking in a few innings after dinner or before doing something else in the area. Very cool. Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2019 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
More often than not, the best growth and disruption opportunities can be found in some of the most unexpected places. We get so hung up studying our direct competitors that we completely lose sight of a potential marketplace newcomer who isn't just out to protect the status quo. I find it's best to look beyond your obvious competitors and consider what's going on in adjacent markets. I recently had an opportunity to do just that and it resulted in me advocating and leading the due diligence for an equity stake in a very exciting startup. This particular startup, Biblezon, produces Android-powered tablets with models for adults and children. One of the cooler aspects of the latter is that there's no browser on the device, so you can safely give it to a child and never worry that they'll end up on an inappropriate website. Our company isn't in the hardware business but we do produce a lot of content every year and we have a rich, deep backlist of timeless material. Biblezon and their tablets represent an entirely new distribution channel, one that we can help develop. We're only in the very early stages of this partnership but I'm excited to see how we can work together, as adjacent businesses, to extend the reach of both organizations in the years ahead. Biblezon is definitely an adjacent business for me but it's not the only one I'm currently exploring strategic alliances and financial investments with. I'm fortunate to work in an organization where we recognize the fact that plenty of innovation and disruption happens outside our four walls. That's why it's so critical to look beyond the usual list of competitors for inspiration. What would a short list of adjacent businesses look like in your segment and what are you doing to explore ways of working with them? Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2019 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
I'm about halfway through a terrific book called Subscribed, by Tien Tzuo. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in disrupting an existing business or creating a completely new one. The author was an early Salesforce employee and used to be their chief marketing officer as well as chief strategy officer, so he obviously knows a thing or two about subscription models. The overall premise covered in the book, where more customers are shifting from owning to renting products, isn't exactly new, but the author provides countless thought-provoking examples and visions of a subscription-based future. Here's a wonderful example: But just imagine what would happen at the next Apple keynote if Tim Cook announced a simple monthly Apple subscription plan that covered everything: network provider charges, automatic hardware upgrades, and add-on options for extra devices, music and video content, specialty software, gaming, etc. Not just an upgrade program, but Apple as a Service. If you dismiss this logic because you can't imagine your products or services in a SaaS-like subscription model, consider this: Here's the secret we use -- tease out the service-level agreement that sits behind the product [or service]. It works for everything. So instead of a refrigerator, it's the guarantee of free, cold food. Instead of a roof, maybe it's a guaranteed source of solar energy. Instead of excavators, it's the expeditious removal of a certain amount of dirt. There's an added dimension to consider here as well: the community engagement you have the opportunity to develop and lead. The author points out that, "loyal newspaper subscribers are willing to pay for enhanced experiences." My local paper, for example, is working hard to create an insider program featuring access to community-oriented products and services which serve as add-ons to the core subscription. Over time, it's easy to see where the original product simply becomes one of many elements of a more robust subscription. In short, you're forced to think more about the solution and experience while focusing less on the individual product. I hope you'll take the time to read Subscribed and consider how it affects your own business segment as well as the broader consumer experience. Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2019 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
The topic of artificial intelligence (AI) is generating a lot of buzz these days and it's often difficult separating fact from fiction. For example, what are the most interesting AI applications today and where is the technology heading tomorrow? I recently started reading a good book on the topic called Prediction Machines, by Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, and Avi Goldfarb. Prediction Machines offers a solid overview of AI fundamentals while also providing plenty of real-world examples. One of my favorite examples is Grammarly, a tool to help improve written communication. Here's how the authors describe the service: Grammarly achieved these corrections both by examining a corpus of documents that skilled editors had corrected and by learning from the feedback of users who accepted or rejected the suggestions. In both cases, Grammarly predicted what a human editor would do. It goes beyond the mechanical application of grammar rules to also assess whether deviations from perfect grammar are preferred by human readers. Years ago there were a few grammar-checker software products that tried to solve the problem the old-fashioned way, with brute force. They certainly helped fix a lot of grammatical errors but they often didn't produce the results you'd get from a good human editor. I'm using the free Grammarly service, both as a standalone app and as a Chrome plug-in, so this article was made better thanks to Grammarly. I'm also going to let Grammarly have a look at some of the documents I write at work. There's a danger in all of this. Google has dumbed us down, making us over-reliant on their search and map services, for example. I spend less time thinking about the best route and instead simply plug the address into Waze and let it tell me. The same thing could happen with Grammarly where my writing skills decline as I get lazy and rely on the service to fix my errors. My plan is to stop and think about each correction Grammarly recommends and do my best to avoid making the same mistake again but we'll see... I hope you'll try out the Grammarly service as well. If you're interested in where AI is heading, be sure to read Prediction Machines and think about how this rapidly changing technology is likely to impact your business and your job. Continue reading
Posted Feb 24, 2019 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
Is it me or is Amazon's Alexa loaded with nothing but gimmicky skills? I like audio news streams as much as the next guy but where are all the amazing skills this platform should be offering by now? I wrote earlier about a use-case publishers and content consumers could get excited about but the capabilities I outlined then are still nowhere to be found. My various Alexa devices are great at streaming music. The Echo Show I got for Christmas sits on my nightstand and randomly shows photos from my collection. It's a rather pricey, over-engineered picture viewer and alarm clock though. A few months ago I bought an in-car Alexa device but soon realized it doesn't add much value beyond what I already get from my phone's podcast app paired via Bluetooth. Speaking of phones, the Alexa platform seems to be where the app stores were in the early days of both the iPhone and Android devices. Come to think of it, it's still pretty hard to find new, useful apps amidst all the clutter. If you're like most people, you have dozens of apps on your phone but you probably only use a few of them on any given day. At this point in the life of Alexa I thought we'd see at least one or two can't-live-without-it skills but I can't think of a single one. I'm still extremely bullish on voice UIs and I believe the future is bright for publishers who are willing to transform their content for delivery on them. That process becomes a lot easier as the text-to-speech services continue improving, btw, and I recommend we continue experimenting with skills and capabilities. I'm guilty of adding to the clutter as I'm working on a skill for an audio version of my website. Amazon makes it sounds simple enough but I ran into a snag about 10 minutes into the process. I've run out of time today but I'm going to see if I can troubleshoot and take my skill live soon. I encourage you to do the same; even if your new Alexa skill isn't a game-changer, it's important to immerse yourself in the process and stay on top of this important platform. Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2019 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
In the pre-ebook era we didn't have a lot of options for managing book highlights and excerpts. They generally lived on your shelf and if you didn't have that book with you, well, you were out of luck The 2007 launch of the Kindle platform dramatically expanded the capabilities for highlights and excerpts...sort of. You didn't have to carry all those books around anymore but your thoughts were pretty much trapped in the Amazon ecosystem. Not much has changed on this front over the past 10+ years but there are other tools that can unlock your book thoughts and notes. I'm talking about Evernote and how I use it to manage my book notes. When I start reading a book I immediately create a new note in Evernote with the book's title. I'm reading more print books than ebooks these days, but the same approach I'm about to describe can be used for either. When I find a page or section I want to highlight or create a note about, I simply use the camera option in Evernote on my phone, take a picture of that page and stick it in the book's Evernote entry. The result is a set of excerpts and notes that travel with me on all my devices. Better yet, I can share those notes with friends or colleagues. In fact, I'm using this solution right now to collaborate and share thoughts on a book I'm reading with one of my co-workers. Evernote has optical character recognition (OCR) built-in and I often take pictures of hand-written meeting notes to save digitally. Oddly enough, Evernote is almost always able to translate my awful handwriting but it often has a hard time recognizing printed words on a book page photo. It works better on the Mac than my Android phone but it's still hit and miss. The downside is that your book page photos often aren't searchable within Evernote and I'm hoping they fix this soon. Despite that issue, Evernote is a terrific tool for managing and sharing your book highlights, excerpts and notes. Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2019 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
What's the most impactful business book you've ever read? Mine is Clayton Christensen's The Innovator's Dilemma. I first read it many years ago and I figure now would be a good time to read it again. I must have given my original copy away, so I stopped by the used book store and picked up another for $8.99. What was so memorable about my first read of this classic? Christensen opened my eyes to think like a startup, an innovator and a disruptor. One of the key takeaways is that many innovators chip away at the low end of the market, causing entrenched market leaders to ignore them, figuring they can have that less profitable segment but they'll never truly compete with me in the more lucrative segment. By the time the leader realizes their mistake, the innovator has already stolen much of the market and is on their way toward total domination. OK, it doesn't always end that way but this book describes many examples of significant disruption by new market entrants. I've referred to this book countless times in my career and I'm confident the lessons it offers are as relevant today as they were when it was originally published. I'm looking forward to starting the reading journey again on this one and I hope you'll join me. I'll be sure to share my thoughts, as well as my preferred method of book highlighting in an upcoming article. (Hint: the highlighting approach involves Evernote...) Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2019 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
If you're looking at this page and scratching your head it's probably because you're used to seeing my digital content strategies site. Although I'm still intrigued by the future of digital content I'm even more passionate about business management, personal development and leadership. The DisruptorFest name is inspired by the fact that disruptors are the people who are truly leading organizations into the future. They're not satisfied with the status quo; rather, they're laser focused on creating new markets, solving new problems or simply inventing new ways to solve old problems. Going forward, DisruptorFest will serve as a resource where I plan to share many of the lessons I've learned and continue to learn. Digital content directions and trends will still be a part of that, of course, but this shift provides more latitude for me to cover other topics as well. Here are just a few of the items I plan to feature in the coming weeks and months: The importance of life-long learning Empowerment Flat organizations Agile Fail forward fast Exercise and fitness Favorite books and excerpts Favorite podcasts The "Fest" in DisruptorFest means this is intended to serve as a community resource. I'd like to hear from you via article comments and/or email. Please be sure to share the lessons you've learned and the techniques you use as a disruptor in your world. Continue reading
Posted Dec 29, 2018 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
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Despite my strong interest in the digital content marketplace, I still read quite a few print books every year. I also like to highlight excerpts for future reference. That works great in the ebook world as those highlights are always only a few taps away on my iPad but my print highlights are far less accessible, especially if I'm away from my physical bookshelf. I thought I found an interesting solution to the problem when I saw the umpteenth ad for ScanMarker Air in my Facebook feed. The promise was simple: A handy OCR device which looks like an oversized highlighter and wirelessly sends your scanned text to the device and app of your choice, all for about a hundred dollars. The device connects effortlessly to laptops, tablets and phones. The scanning and text conversion process is pretty good, although far from flawless. It's the limitations around where that text can be sent that has me scratching my head. The Mac app works great. Not only can you send the text to the ScanMarker app but I can instead send it directly to other apps like Evernote. That's a key feature but this functionality is missing from the iPad and Android versions of the ScanMarker app. The problem I've run into is that I don't always have my Mac with me when I'm reading a book. My phone is generally nearby, but that means I have to scan the excerpts into my ScanMarker phone app then copy-and-paste them in Evernote, an extra, clumsy step. I'm hoping the ScanMarker team updates their apps to support scanning directly into other tablet and phone apps. That seems iffy at best though as I noticed their Android app has only been downloaded a few thousand times and it hasn't been updated in months. If the user base remains small, early adopters like myself will end up with an orphaned product. If the ScanMarker team happens to see this review, I hope they consider a pretty simple use-case for future development: I'm sure most, if not all, ScanMarker customers are using it with books. If so, how about adding the ability to identify the title by scanning the ISBN? Further, allow me to configure my app so that anytime I scan a new ISBN the app create a new Evernote entry where all highlights go till I scan a new ISBN, for example. If I switch back to a book I started scanning earlier, let me switch the excerpt destination to the older Evernote entry when I re-scan the first book's ISBN. ScanMarker Air could become the device I was hoping for when I bought mine a week ago. If you're thinking about buying one, I recommend you wait until we see if TopScan, the company behind this device, adds much-needed functionality to this marginally functional product. Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2018 at Joe Wikert's DisruptorFest
Marcy and Adam, I wonder if we're trying to set the bar too high. For example, 25 years ago, if everyone felt that web-based video distribution and consumption required professional, studio-level quality, YouTube would have never been born. I'm not suggesting books can take the next step forward by inserting videos of mentos-in-coke-bottles videos; rather, we should ask ourselves what the expectations are for the target audience. I listen to a lot of podcasts these days. Some of them are obviously professionally produced but many of them are clearly done on the fly, with little thought given to post-production work. Most of these lower production quality ones have more of a genuine feel. Btw, this is the same reason I've never warmed up to audiobooks. They don't sound like a book does when I read it, probably because of the highly polished, professional voice talent. I'd probably like them better if they were produced via text-to-speech or with a more informal sounding speaker.