Thursday, January 06, 2011

Allan Pinkerton

This leader really had two things, a keen eye for detail, and hatred of crime. Let's talk about the detail portion for a minute. Even before reading to the end of the article, I found that Mr. Pinkerton had reminded me of Sherlock Holmes. If you have read Sherlock Holmes, you will note that the key to solving the crimes he investigated was approaching the case with no bias, and assuming nothing. He basically took everything in, missing nothing, and through deduction and logic was able to solve the case. Pinkerton was also the same way, and was able to understand people.

Today's leader teaches us about having a keen eye for detail and when observing something, keeping an objective perspective and noticing things others may not keep an eye on.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Percy Spencer - the innovator of the microwave oven and other things

Have you ever heard of Percy Spencer? This is the person who noticed magnetrons generated heat that could be used to cook food. He was standing near a magnetron, when the candy bar in his pocket melted. He then started putting things together and created the first oven, called a Radar Range.

Besides his numerous innovations and inventions, Percy Spencer only had an education until the age of 12. So, what was his secret? Persistence = yes, Innovation = yes, but also curiosity about how things worked. He was basically a self educated man, who through trial and error and reading, created one of the most helpful home appliances in history.

Read on, his story is interesting because he did not get all the "tools" by getting a formal education.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Netflix - Innovation and making it look easy

Netflix is one of the top stocks for 2010. However, I do remember being part of the service way back in 2001 or so. I traveled a lot for work at the time, and thought it would be nice to have movies waiting in the mail for me when I got back. On the plus side, the movies were not due back at any specific time.

Fast forward about 10 years, and look at the changes. There are very few brick and mortar rental places left, and Blockbuster went bankrupt. Recently we obtained a Boxee Box from D-Link and again, this could be another game changer as it almost seems that it could replace the cable box for us.

The founder of Netflix is an interesting guy, he spent time in the peace corps and as a programmer. The most interesting things I think he brings to the table are vision, and innovation. He really was ahead of his time, and I do not think he had this in mind when he founded Netflix. At the time, the value proposition was no late fees and a reasonable price to rent movies.

The only real problem that needs to be overcome now is that Netflix delivers its content over the internet, which is fine until you get about to the last 100 yards to the home. Now, the cable companies want a piece of the action, because Netflix is taking up bandwidth and of course revenue from movie rentals and people having less use for the set top boxes. It should be an interesting battle, hopefully the best technology and innovator wins.

Read though the article, it gives you some good insight into the leadership style and thinking of this key innovator.