Pure Content

Look at more stuff. Think about it harder.



Fruit is good for you... appartantly.

I came across what may be one of the coolest sites ever; eatfruit.com I cannot see any reason for its existance other than to let you "remind people to eat fruit." This shows the growing concern of eating healthy foods and does in fact work, I myself am eating an apple as I write this. So go ahead and remind more people to eat fruit.
Quite absurd, but worth a look in.





THE CRACKDOWN on the city's real criminals continues! "Artist" James de la Vega, known for his "inspiring" and "poignant" and "lovely" sidewalk sketches is facing jail time for vandalism. Go, go, go, city government! How dare this man actually deface our pristine sidewalks. Furthermore, in defiance of the new Code to Moderate Artistic Expression, he hasn't even been licensed by the Bureau of Artistic Judgment and Certification. Pinkos and commies who would dare defend this monster can be found rallying their support on Weds., April 14, 3:30, 1651 Lexington Ave. (E. 104th St.).


To contact James De La Vega,please call 212.876.8649 or visit his gallery at 1651 Lexington Avenue @ E. 104th Street.


harnessing (or choking off) creativity

For those of you with access to Management Today, I urge you to check out Stefan Stern's March 1 report on "How to make creativity contagious." It's central point is this:

Companies may identify fresh thinking as a core value, but this doesn't square with a corporate strategy in which minimising risk is seen as a virtue. How can an organisation adapt its culture to embrace innovation?

Towards the end of the article, there were some sage observations offered:


1: It's too risky/unpredictable. (In the Gold Rush of 1849, people made money through the creative production of commodity shovels, not from stab-in-the-dust exploration.)

2: Best to be a fast follower, not a first mover.

3: It will cannibalise sales of our existing products and services, in which we've made a large investment. You can't just write that off.

4: We haven't got a budget for that/we'll have to cut money from other departments in order to find the funds.

5: Engineering/Human Resources/Legal/Ethics/shareholder activists say it can't or shouldn't be done.

6: We're too big and cumbersome to make the most of this and other ideas. We need to form partnerships with SMEs, government labs and universities, or set up an autonomous unit.

7: We/somebody else did that before and it failed.

8: Our suppliers will never rise to the challenge.

9: The punters are so dumb they will never buy it/will snap up every one we've got.

10: Punters and sales staff will be too slow to grasp how it works. Anyway, they don't need to know that and, apart from a few geeks, aren't usually interested.

11: We need to protect our intellectual property and our brand at all costs: diverting resources into this innovation doesn't help in that.

12: It's impossible to forecast the market for this innovation.

Have you avoided killing ideas today?

EJ in Richmond


Positioning: The battle for your mind

What a cool book! Not being a marketing person by nature - trying hard though - I found this book to be powerful. It talks about our over communicated society and the need to be heard over the din.

Positioning, by Al Ries and Jack Trout with an updated forward by Philip Kotler, Ph. D, teaches (which is why I love it - it teaches) the concept of listening as a customer to get positioned in their brain. It is not about the product, it is about the product in the customer's mind. Cool!

Dave Dec


creativity and tradition: a notion

If we're willing to explore all avenues of innovation, we cannot ignore the traditional constructs, as this excerpt from "What Bach could have taught Spinoza about Judaism" points out:

It was within the "confinement of the law" that Bach burst out with unprecedented creativity. This proves, against all expectations, that the "finiteness" of the law leads to infinite riches. What Bach proved as nobody else was that it is not in novelty that one reaches the deepest of all human creative experiences, but in the capacity to descend to the depths of what is already given. Bach's works were entirely free of any innovation, but utterly new in originality.

This type of conventional creativity we do not find in Beethoven. Beethoven (in his later years) broke with all the accepted rules of composition. He was one of the founders of a whole new world of musical options. But it was his rejection of the conventional musical laws that made him less of a musical genius. To work within constraints and
then to be utterly novel is the ultimate sign of unprecedented greatness. This is what Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749-1832) the great German poet and philosopher meant when he said:

In der Beschraenkung zeigt sich erst der Meister, Und das Gesetz nur kann uns Freiheit geben. (Sonnet: "Was wir bringen")

(In limitation does the master really prove himself. And it is (only) the law that can provide us with freedom)

Would you agree?

EJ in Richmond


thomas edison in a box

"His first patent was for a Device for the Autonomous Generation of Useful Information," the official name of the Creativity Machine, Miller said. "His second patent was for the Self-Training Neural Network Object. Patent Number Two was invented by Patent Number One. Think about that. Patent Number Two was invented by Patent Number One!"

An excerpt from an absolutely fascinating article about the Creativity Machine, invented by Stephen Thaler, founder of Imagination Engines. It's at heart a computer network that thinks creatively--Thaler set up programs that mimic the pathways of the human brain and then jolt them and the system spits out creative ideas, just as the human brain does when its neurons are washed by "noise." It's a functioning model of the human creative capacity.

Creative Machines are responsible for the invention of the Oral-B CrossAction toothbrush. One composed 11,000 songs--"some are good"--over the course of a weekend. They indulge in writing supermarket tabloids. They can improve Internet security and be better interplanetary rovers.

There is, of course, a downside: will such networks supplant human workers? Are we setting ourselves up for a Terminator-like uprising of the machines?

It seems doubtful to me. In the meantime, though, just the fact that such a thing can be invented and function successfully intrigues me.

If you're interested in the original patent for the Creativity Engine, click here. Others are available at the Imagination Engines, Inc. site above.

EJ in Richmond


Pitching In

A friend and mentor of mine died last week. He was way too young to go - cancer, Mitch died at 50. Another friend of mine told me of a young woman from the town we work had leukemia. They held a marrow donor drive to find a donor. The passing of my friend compelled me to help this woman, Kimberly.

I'm not trying to depress you, so why am I posting this here? In my search to bring passion to my own work and others, I would like to ask you all to pitch in and write more on this site. The passion my friend had in life and the passion of all the people who were tested to help Kimberly teaches me that pitching in and being part of a community is in our soul. We are here to do wonderful things for and with each other.

I know I don't own this site, but I do feel it is mine as well as yours. Use your power and passion for good. Keep the ideas flowing here on this blog. We can all be on this amazing team. It's awesome to be a part of it and I thank you for that feeling.

Dave Dec


My Right Breast - genius or ...something else?

I love the Patriots. I also think Janet Jackson is beautiful. She stole the thunder from my football team.

Apologies? Wasn't planned? Nonsense. I watched CNN last night and counted 3 times they re-ran the stunt in 45 seconds. You just know Justin feels payback to Britney for kissing Madonna.

All that aside, I am not insulted by the wonderful human body, my family see no shame in it, and I will get over the Pats win being a side note. To say no one at CBS, MTV, NFL (enough TLAs - three letter acronyms), or sponsors knew is the greatest insult.

CNN showing this 3 times in 45 seconds - does anyone believe there are no CNN, or other network commercial time sales people saying, "and they are going to show that clip over and over again during the 6 o'clock news, how much time do you want?"

In the play tradition, let's through down a challenge: Take the crotch grabbing, flag tearing, breast showing schemes and rise above. Let's keep some integrity even though this is all about money. Look at more stuff and think about it harder.



Jobless Recovery?

Have you heard this one yet, Jobless Recovery? If the economy is getting stronger without job growth, why is it called a recovery? Why don't they call it, "Let them eat cake!"

Pay employees 40 hours a week and expect 60 - 80 hours worth of work - that's why the production rate increases in this economy without substantial job growth rate. If people are passionate about their work and they want to put in those hours, that's the best. But if it is anything but passion, and we are not careful, many people will leave their jobs for more meaningful work with fewer hours and less money. There has to be passion of will, not force and expectation to drive a true recovery.

Dave Dec


I ran across an interesting site today-it's something I suggest everyone should take a moment to read. Whitwell Middle school in Tennessee came up with a class project 3 years ago to collect 6 million paper clips and use them to create a memorial for the 6 million people killed in the WWII Holocaust. I called and spoke with the director to inquire about their progress. She told me that they have currently received a little over 32 million paper clips. Two U.S. Congressmen purchased an authentic German rail car (one of the last few remaining in the world) that transported prisoners to camps during the war, and had the car shipped to the middle school. There it was filled with 11 million paper clips by the children, and stands today as a memorial for the victims of the Holocaust. The teacher that headed this project also disclosed that they had received paper clips and documentation from all 50 U.S. states and 44 countries on 6 continents. Recently, Miramax filmed a documentary about the project that is touring the world. The film will be playing in Germany in 2 weeks. Another 11 million paper clips collected were placed in an obleisk that was constructed beside the rail car. The volunteers are making plans for more memorials to house the remaining paper clips. It's amazing how powerful something like a paper clip can be! Congratulations to the teachers, students, volunteers, and every individual that mailed in a paper clip!

HERE's the site: (go to www.marionschools.org and scroll down to the link.)


Making fun of Passion for our work?
I am by no means a Howard Dean fan, but I am offended by how the media and others are making fun of his speech the other night. Shouldn't we all be that excited about our life's work? I mean his job right now is trying to become president. Think about how much work defines us. When you meet a stranger in a bar, on the street, in an airplane and they ask what you do, you answer with your job description. Though you may be a mother, father, lover, poet, you still answer with your work. Let's all answer with passion. Let's get swept up by the idea of 'what we want to be' is exciting. If others make fun, as Gordon MacKenzie said, they are trying to shame us. Shame on them!


sleep on it

German scientists have just released the results of a study that shows that sufficient sleep can enhance creativity (another article here). A good sleep cycle seems to give the mind a chance to restructure memories in such a way before storing them as to enhance creative problem-solving. The study itself can be found in this week's issue of the journal Nature.

This study, in conjunction with a recent article in Newsweek that declares a good night's sleep as necessary to overall health as a good diet and exercise, means that I gotta get to bed.

EJ in Richmond


'Healthier' Food

Hey, did I just coin a new phrase? Not Health Food, Healthier Food. From McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's selling salads to Kentucky Fried Chicken's new campaign about the health benefits of Fried Chicken. Now the best - Snickers makes an energy bar Marathon So, I will eat my Snickers bar while I jog to Wendy's for a double classic - biggie size of course - and choke it all down with a diet coke. Anyway, I am impressed with the efforts of the traditional fast foods grabbing a piece of the health food markets. Heck, up here in Vermont we have an author, Rowan Jacobsen, who wrote a book, "Chocolate Unwrapped; The Surprising Health Benefits of America's Favorite Passion." Ah, desert!

Dave Dec


hey, what is that buzz? a vibrating razor?

In an echo of the super-secret but way-hyped launch of the Segway (remember IT?), Gillette will be announcing the launch of a new product--some new product--tomorrow. The way they've built the hype is pure artistry, from the clear green plastic invitations to the super-secret development process to the unveiling at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel tomorrow to the speculation in the press.

My hat's off to 'em.

EJ in Richmond

p.t. Happy New Year, everybody!


Happy Everything!

Funny, we need a year ending and beginning to reflect on what has past and plan for what is new. Why these dates? Tradition I guess. We can reflect anytime really, as well as start something new anytime. The time to create is now! I know, where am I going with this? I just wanted to wish all participants of Pure Content - readers and writers alike - a very happy, healthy, and creative new year! Especially the awesome folks at Play! You are a daily inspiration to me. Thank you for being here.

Dave Dec


the number 8 wire culture

The (Singapore) Straits Times has a fascinating column about New Zealand's culture of adaptability and creativity.

It starts off with an anecdote about the folks at Weta Workshop--the ones bringing Middle-earth to life in the Lord of the Rings movies--dealing with the question of creating artificial rocks. The time-tested technique involved chiseling away at a polystyrene block; Richard Taylor at Weta Workshop just went out and took a cast of actual rocks, doing it in a hundredth of the time.

Mr Taylor's refreshing approach is what his fellow New Zealanders would call the 'Number 8 wire culture' - a term derived from the days when people lived on lonely farms scattered far apart.

Number 8 fencing wire was the only material they had in abundance. So they used it not only for cattle fences and paddocks, but also as an all-purpose material, bending, twisting and shaping it into coat hangers, kitchen utensils, gate-locks and even chairs.

Over time, the Number 8 wire came to epitomise a culture of adaptability and creativity, a 'can-do spirit' of which the Kiwis are proud.

And the New Zealand government is working to harnass that inborn ingenuity:

To that end, [the government] has launched a national campaign to promote what it calls 'effective innovation'. It has identified as its new growth engines, sectors such as the arts, infocomm technology, biotechnology as well as research and development in these fields.

Is your nation ready to intentionally innovate? What's your number 8 wire?

EJ in Richmond


customer-driven product development

Ducati, maker of luxury motorcycles, is taking an Internet-driven approach to developing new bikes, according to this article from Fortune.

The eternal question for automotive manufacturers is whether it's worth mass-producing their concept vehicles.

These are the big questions all manufacturers would like to have answered before they launch new products. Ducati is using the Internet in a way that’s unique among vehicle makers to help answer them at very low cost. Bike buffs who log on to the www.ducati.com website can fill out a detailed "opinion survey" (http://www.ducati.com/sportclassic/index.jhtml#) that gives them a chance to weigh in on all sorts of styling and equipment matters. Motorcyclists are a notoriously detail-oriented lot, and now they can comment on the fine points of future machinery they might like to buy. All importantly, the quiz asks: how much would you pay for these bikes?

. . . . "We’re getting a tremendous amount of feedback, and the company is going to sift through it and see what themes keep cropping up from Los Angeles to Tokyo to Berlin," says Michael Lock, CEO of Ducati North America in Cupertino, Calif. "Ducati is very much interested in hearing what people think before we bring this kind of machines to market. And we’ve got to be open to changing things they don’t like."

Power to the people! (And help to the manufacturer.)

EJ in Richmond


talking trash

And speaking of unusual trash cans (see the post about the Clios below), Berlin is installing talking trash cans soon. Drop some trash, and Oscar calls out "Thank you!" (Or "Danke" or "Merci.")

I'm struck that they chose not to have it respond verbally after dark, figuring that too many people would be creeped out by talking trash cans at night. I think they're probably right.

EJ in Richmond


the promise and peril of Amazon's 'Search Inside the Book'

Amazon.com recently introduced it's 'Search Inside the Book' feature to great fanfare. Users can now search the complete texts of 120,000 titles (33 million pages of text) in the Amazon.com database for a particular word or phrase. If you remember that seven years ago you ran across the phrase "glass flagon" but have no earthly idea where it's from, a quick search with the 'SItB' feature will tell you that two different books by Diana Gabaldon (Outlander and Voyager) carry that exact phrase, while the Larousse Gastronomique includes the sentence "The first of these brought the wine in a flagon, and the king's glass, covered; the second brought a silver jug full of water. . . ."

It's a wonderful tool for the searcher--but some authors and publishers are a little distressed that making the full text available on a page-by-page basis will enable people to find just what they want--a recipe, a citation to another work, a museum address and description--without having to buy the book. Some are saying that "what Amazon is doing is no different than what Kazaa is doing to music" because "it presents major copyright problems for a large class of authors who have largely been silent thus far."

I'm intrigued, however, from the pure searcher/researcher angle. As a Wired article on the Amazon initiative stated, "I immediately recognize the power of the archive to make connections hitherto unseen. As the number of searchable books increases, it will become possible to trace the appearance of people and events in published literature and to follow the most digressive pathways of our collective intellectual life. . . . The Amazon archive is dizzying not because it unearths books that would necessarily have languished in obscurity, but because it renders their contents instantly visible in response to a search. It allows quick query revisions, backtracking, and exploration. It provides a new form of map."

On the other hand, the very fact that you're searching using a particular, predetermined keyword or phrase precludes you from stumbling across completely unrelated--yet helpful and/or interesting--information just by pure chance. The lack of serendipitous discovery is painful to contemplate, as Ted Gup pointed out in his essay "The End of Serendipity" (referenced here ):

When I was a young boy, my parents bought me a set of The World Book Encyclopedia. The 22 burgundy-and-gold volumes lined the shelves above my bed. On any given day or night I would reach for a book and lose myself for hours in its endless pages of maps, photographs, and text. Even when I had a purpose in mind -- say, for instance, a homework assignment on salamanders -- I would invariably find myself reading instead of Salem and its witch hunts or of Salamis, where the Greeks routed the Persians in the fifth century B.C. Like all encyclopedias of the day, it was arranged alphabetically, based on sound and without regard to subject. As a child, I saw it as a system wondrously whimsical and exquisitely inefficient. Perfect for exploration. The "S" volume alone could lead me down 10,000 unconnected highways.

The world my two young sons inherit is a very different place. That same encyclopedia now comes on CD-ROM. Simply drop the platinum disk into the A-drive and type in a key word. In a flash the subject appears on the screen. The search is perfected in a single keystroke -- no flipping of pages, no risk of distraction, no unintended consequences. And therein lies the loss.

The Amazon.com 'Search Inside the Book'--or hypertext on the Internet, for that matter--is helpful if you want to follow threads among related bits of information. But what if you want to run across something new and completely unrelated? Or even if you don't want to, but you do it anyway--how easy is it going to be?

EJ in Richmond


on the origin of play

I've been doing some research into the origin of play (the activity, not the consultancy). Some interesting current tidbits I ran across recently:

Play is responsible for giving us bigger brains

The New Scientist reported recently (reprinted here) on new research into the origin and benefits of play:

[P]lay shapes the overall architecture of the brain rather than individual circuits connected with specific activities. "Most likely, [animals at play] are directing their own brain assembly," says [the University of Idaho's John] Byers.

"People have not paid enough attention to the amount of the brain activated by play," says Marc Bekoff from the University of Colorado. Bekoff studied coyote pups at play and found that their behaviour was markedly more variable and unpredictable than that of adults. Behaving this way activates many different parts of the brain, he reasons. Bekoff likens it to a behavioural kaleidoscope, with animals at play jumping rapidly from one activity to another. "They use behaviour from a lot of different contexts--predation, aggression, reproduction," he says. "Their developing brain is getting all sorts of stimulation."

Not only is more of the brain involved in play than was suspected, but it also seems to activate higher cognitive processes. "There's enormous cognitive involvement in play," says Bekoff. He points out that play often involves complex assessments of playmates, ideas of reciprocity and the use of specialised signals and rules. He believes that play creates a brain that has greater behavioural flexibility and improved potential for learning later in life. "It's about more connectedness throughout the brain," he says.

Play helps us deal with the unexpected

Mark Bekoff (above) joined two others in a June 2001 article in the Quarterly Review of Biology, in which they proposed the following:

Our major new functional hypothesis is that play enables animals to develop flexible kinematic and emotional responses to unexpected events in which they experience a sudden loss of control. Specifically, we propose that play functions to increase the versatility of movements used to recover from sudden shocks such as loss of balance and falling over, and to enhance the ability of animals to cope emotionally with unexpected stressful situations. To obtain this "training for the unexpected," we suggest that animals actively seek and create unexpected situations in play through self-handicapping; that is, deliberately relaxing control over their movements or actively putting themselves into disadvantageous positions and situations. Thus, play is comprised of sequences in which the players switch rapidly between well-controlled movements similar to those used in "serious" behavior and self-handicapping movements that result in temporary loss of control. We propose that this playful switching between in-control and out-of-control elements is cognitively demanding, setting phylogenetic and ontogenetic constraints on play, and is underlain by neuroendocrinological responses that produce a complex emotional state known as "having fun" . . . . We argue that our "training for the unexpected" hypothesis can account for some previously puzzling kinematic, structural, motivational, emotional, cognitive, social, ontogenetic, and phylogenetic aspects of play. It may also account for a diversity of individual methods for coping with unexpected misfortunes.

All this to say, play isn't just about playing for its own sake--it helps us to tackle the intricate and rapidly-changing world we live in in a way that will prove successful. In stasis lies death--we've got to be ready to deal flexibly with unexpected challenges, learn from new situations and apply those lessons to even newer situations. Playing makes learning possible.

And if we're intentional about our play, we're gonna be ready for anything.

EJ in Richmond


If I hear one more CxO say...

Today's economy - unemployment is up, but so is productivity. If I hear one more CxO or journalist/analyst say the reason is because the low performance employees are being weeded out I'll scream. So instead of waiting here is my 'scream.' I know a lot of talented folks that are looking for work. These are high producing folks that are in a bad economy. Especially where I live in Vermont. The economy has been weak here for over 5 years - can you say Howard Dean? - But that's another blog entry.

The reason production is high during low employment is fear. People produce at unbelievable rates when they fear losing their jobs. These same CxO level folks (see above) know this. I'm not here to say, "wait until the economy gets better and I'm outa here." What I am saying is people, even super-producers - can only work in this fear for so long without re-evaluating what is important.

The truly creative managers are those who see this trend of fear and instead of embracing it wish to change it. Capture the high productivity, but breed soul into the job. Make it a relationship worth pursuing for the long run. Truly commit, not just to stockholders, profits, or owners of family owned businesses, but to your workforce. Make them a part of your team before other creatives discover your employees’ high production and start an affair to remember - and leave you for the new romance.

Dave Dec


pssshhhttt, glug, glug--mmmm, the refreshing taste of turkey & gravy!

At the end of the local news last night, they did one of those crazy-but-true-at-the-end-of-the-news stories about the Jones Soda Co.'s latest product--turkey & gravy soda, ready to entertain your taste buds for Thanksgiving.

Described as "the color and consistency of watered-down gravy minus the floating giblets and globs of turkey fat, " the drink "has a faint meaty, peppery smell that falls short of teasing the taste buds like a turkey roasting in Grandma's oven. The taste? Hard to describe. It has a salty, sweet lingering bite."



X(3872), or matter ain't as static as you think

Scientists at the KEK electron-positron collider in Tsukuba, Japan, have discovered a new particle, the X(3872), that either means there's a whole new family of subatomic particles out there or that current theories on sub-atomic mass need to be reworked.

In looking for a particular kind of charmonium (a meson made up of a quark and an anti-quark, if that helps), the scientists realized they'd found something brand new, a particle apparently made of another pair of particles (the same way a molecule is made up of multiple atoms)--something that opens whole new avenues of research, and thereby whole new regions of knowledge. There are articles on the discovery here and here.

How fantastic is it that we're continually revising our models for the way the world is put together? It's a blow for serendipity! The fortuitious discovery of a thing unlooked-for. If research in quantum physics ain't "looking at more stuff," I don't know what is.

Incidentally, I love the merging of poetry and science when it comes to naming features of the subatomic world: "beauty" mesons, and quarks of six flavors (strange, truth, beauty, charm, up, down), the "colour" force. Maybe science is art and art is science. I like to think so, anyway.

EJ in Richmond


the artist as corporate commander

They make products that can hold the attention of paying customers. They're skilled at developing talent, and at making sure that talent works well together.

They're CEOs. Or they're artists. The one can help the other, for sure.

"Executives, however, could learn from artists' ability to dare to break molds, lead changes in taste, raise funds and be productive while being frugal. Artists also can show how to take criticism but not let it thwart their individuality or stop them from developing their work."

So says Carol Hymowitz in the Wall Street Journal.

EJ in Richmond


ADWEEK just reported that the Clio Awards have announced that they're adding a new category: Content & Contact.

Content & Contact "will recognize [advertising] campaigns that show both innovation in media as well as excellence in creativity."

One example they cited for a campaign that might do well in this category is Crispin Porter + Bogusky's outdoor installations for Mini. Nick Brien, the jury chair, said that "[t]he effort's oversize trashcans in airports excelled both in creativity and the innovative way they interacted with the public."

Here's a summary of the Content & Contact category, from the 2004 awards entry kit: "Content & Contact is a new category for work that demonstrates excellence in creative communications through the effective marriage of content creativity and contact innovation. Entries will be judged by an Executive Jury comprised of strategic media directors and creative directors. Judges will evaluate the intersection of media and creative concept to award the work that engages the target audience in a breakthrough way."

It's that "engaging the target audience" thing that's exciting--the "contact" in Content & Contact. No advertising--or any communication--is successful if it doesn't engage its audience, and it's good to see the Clios rewarding creative thinking in this area.

How does your message interact with its audience?

EJ in Richmond


Awright, I can't bear to see such a great resource languishing. . . .

EJ in Richmond


You are taking fall internships? Crap. Too bad I have a job... I can be swayed however....

The following is a recent article I have been spending some time researching and writing on my blog, Downsize This. I appreciate your review.

Why Business School Prof's know nothing about business....

So, have you ever sat in a college class and listened to a Prof ramble on about something, all the while knowing in the back of your head that this can never work? Well, there is a reason for that. The reason is fundamental and goes all the way back to the admission practices of Top University Business PhD programs.

The PhD by its very nature is a research degree. This is good and bad. Research is very applicable in scientific fields. Fields where experiments can be done in a controlled environment and the results recorded, repeated, recorded, and so on, until regularity can be established. For degrees in Chemistry, Biology, Physics, etc., this makes perfect sense. Business, however, is totally different. Business is the science of people, culture, trends, economics, and politics, and changes everyday. What worked in 1999 certainly does not work today in business. What worked in physics 5,000 years ago is exactly the same today. The Laws of thermodynamics are the same. Science and Business are completely different schools of thought, the research and PhD degree programs, however, are approached in the same ways.

So what does this mean? What it means is you have professors teaching in business schools based on their research, not experience. Just take a look at the Business School Faculty Page of Stanford University, certainly one of the world's most prestigious business schools. One thing to note, for professors that are teaching BUSINESS, there is no mention of any work experience for any of their professors! If this does not bother you, it should. PhDs telling people how to run a business, that have never worked in one.... Hmmmm..... "Do as I say, don't do as I do." I mean look at this woman. Are you bloody kidding me?! Her research interests are listed as:

Culture and persuasion (e.g., understanding the dynamic role of culture and its impact on attitudes), self-expression (e.g., identifying dimensions of brand personality and exploring how brands are used for self-expressive reasons) and emotional experience(e.g., examining the creation and impact of emotional experience).

Gimme a break... Oh but she has a lot of papers published. Is that what it takes to educate a Manager or Entrepreneur on the in's and out's of successfully running a business?

The problem with the Business Professors starts with the Business Schools' methodologies for recruiting, admitting, and compensating PhD candidates. Let's start with recruiting. There are virtually no part-time PhD programs. Certainly none at any respected University. PhD programs recruit only at other Universities. They want to bring students on board, not business people. Staying with Stanford as an example, here is a complete list of their recruiting locations in 2003:

George Washington University
Atlanta Universities Center
Emory University
Princeton University
Harvard Business School
5 Colleges, Amherst College
University of Illinois

Notice anything funny here? They are all colleges, and gee, look at the list... Emory, Princeton, Harvard, Kellogg (Univ. of Ill). Gee, all Top Tier Business Schools. I do not want some Princeton blow hole with an MA in English telling me how to direct corporate strategy.

Admissions follows the same philosophy. Admission is weighed heavily on GPA and test scores. Stanford's Admission page for PhD Students measure many applicant statistics, but does not measure work experience. Again, proof they are recruiting professional students trained in theory, but not practice.

Finally is compensation. Stipends for PhDs typically average around $20k per year. Good luck getting a top notch successful business person to leave his career and teach his success to others for a $100k per year pay cut. Many PhD students provide valuable research and teaching duties to their respective Universities, and this pay amount is very humiliating to a business professional. To professional students used to living off of student loans, free tuition plus 20 grand seems like hitting the jackpot. Therefore its easy to see who is running into these programs. In America, success in business means having a good income. It logically follows that Business PhD programs must not want to recruit people that are successful in business.

PhDs and MBAs are completely different degrees. PhDs are based on research, and are typically pursued by students who have never had any real work experience. MBA's are based on case study, practical application, and are pursued by business professionals looking to advance their careers. The problem is, these MBAs are taught by the PhDs who a) have no relevant work experience to refer to in their teaching and b) are teaching a degree program that they have never went through themselves (most of the time. Some PhDs do indeed also have MBAs).

The result: MBAs that learn and apply business philosophies and ideologies that seem great on paper, but may have no real-world practical application. These philosophies are taught my Business PhDs that can not relate to their students. A lot of Business PhDs still think that Communism makes the most sense. Need I say more? And Miss Aaker and her "identifying dimensions of brand personality" reeks of jargon-fueled research that sounds impressive but isn't functional in practical application. PhDs are granted their degrees when other PhDs with equally non-existent work experience determine their research has simply followed scientific methodology.

How to fix it: offer part-time PhD programs in Business. And even before that, recognize that Business PhDs are different from Science PhDs. Business PhD research can be drawn from real-world experience from someone who maintains a job while pursuing the degree. Do that and the compensation issues goes away. I would get my PhD today if I could do it part time. Do you really expect me to give up a six figure income for $20k a year?! Are you nuts?! And that is too bad, because I would make a good professor. Why? Because I have been there. I have seen what works, and what doesn't. I have created strategies, and put them into practice. I don't have a 4.0 undergrad GPA, I did not get a 750 on my GMAT, but I have been in the trenches like so many other business professionals that are refused the chance at a PhD simply because we are unable to go to class full-time.

Get off your ridiculous, arrogant high horse that "The PhD program is intellectually rigorous and requires full-time attention." Refocus that attention from books and interviews to the office. Recruit successful leaders. Get some credibility for cryin out loud. I don't care how many degrees you have from Yale, or how many languages you speak, if you have never led in the business community, do not tell me how to lead it.


Jonathan Rehm-applicant for fall internship at Play

I've read an article from Fortune Magazine called "Tree Huggers, Soy Lovers, and Profits" by Marc Gunther. It tells the story of Paul Tebo, a chemical engineer who is now corporate vice president for safety, health, and environment, at DuPont. In the past Tebo ran DuPont's petrochemicals division, the portion of the company responsible for labling DuPont as America's worst polluter. However, DuPont's case today is much different, in large part thanks to Tebo. The focus of this article is an innovative idea called sustainable growth, which deals with an economy that produces profits while befitting the environment simultaneously. For DuPont it has gone beyond reducing waste and pollution and has crossed over boundaries in an attempt to have a successful plant that will never deplete natural resources. This idea has been imagined and spoken of for years, but for the first time someone is actually living up to the challenge. This company has finally found a way to be profitable and safe. While its hard to determine how successful DuPont will be, I admire them for making such a bold statement. Tebo believes it is the business' corporate responsibility to help protect the planet. Sustainable growth is all about this responsibility and the ability to follow through with commitments. DuPont has set the benchmark for the future, its time to sit back and see who follows them. I truly hope this innovative idea is a success because the possibilities it opens up are vast. For anyone interested in this article about changing the face of chemical engineering it can be found in the June 9 edition of Fortune.


I recently read an article in the September edition of Fast Company about Les Schwab Tires, a company that goes above and beyond in customer service. The article is titled "Four Tires, Free Beef" because customers get a package of steaks complimentary with their new tires during “free beef month.” This is just a small example of how generous the company is to their customers. Unlike most tire repair shops, mechanics are trained to treat their customers as if they were family members. Also, the company replaces so many flat tires for free that it loses $10 million a year on this expense. Such hospitable service keeps customer retention very high. Satisfied customers have developed a cult following with the tire company. Customer loyalty is proven with their estimated $1 billion in revenue. The service that Les Schwab provides to his customers is a testament that kindness is rewarded with allegiance to a company.

-Boris Sharapan, Play internship applicant.


My Name is Bradley Oswald I am a Junior at the University of Richmond Applying for the Fall Internship at Play. I recently read "Failure is Glorious" from Fast Company.

The article focuses on the importance of learning from your failures. The basic premise of the article allows the reader to understand that through failure you can innovate and change an industry. Through failure you can develop and create new more unique products that can create market growth and share. This is an extremely interesting article that focuses on a fundamental business practice: innovation. Companies need to constantly innovate in order to continue to do business in our fast paced economy.

The article talks about walking a fine line between the "possible" and the "not possible." Walking this line forces companies to constantly be on there toes; in order to adapt and change to a certain business market. While walking this fine line, failure is not a problem so long as you learn from the "not possibles" (failures) and turn them into "possibles." This is essential to innovation for a company. If a company can transform their failures to success...Then a company is extremely innovative and adaptive.

I recommend you take a look at this article. Its short, sweet, and to the point. It provides a wealth of information that all businesses should have.


Pass This Along to A Teacher -- Here's a cool project I've been helping out on recently. It's the Global Virtual Classroom project of Give Something Back International. It's a program that is aimed at providing opportunities for cross-border, cross-cultural collaboration and communication between primary and secondary school students. The cornerstone of the initial launch is a website design contest in which teams of three schools from three different countries will work on web projects from October through February. In another month or so, we'll be launching the second piece of the project, a Clubhouse that will allow for similar projects, but without the restrictions or structure of a contest.

The project is particularly interested in drumming up participation from outside the US (we expect plenty from these shores, and need at least twice as many non-US schools to form the contest teams without duplication of country in a team). So I am calling upon non-US Pure Content readers especially to please consider passing information about the Global Virtual Classroom to teachers and schools in your part of the world.

And fellow bloggers...since we're trying to get the word out widely, a link would be appreciated. It would be very cool to see the Global Virtual Classroom make it into Technorati's top stories.

-- Frank Patrick



Came across an article titled: Citigroup is Like President Bush and, of course, I couldn't resist. A research group which focuses on organizational behavior adapted psychometric tests, used for personality profiling, to analyze the 'corporate personality' of several banks. Interestingly this research was motivated by a "massive erosion of trust" between banks and employees.



Reading through the Yamamoto Moss conference highlights reminded me of two things. One was the Alternatives to Violence Project
(AVP) and the other is a Swedish researcher, Goran Ekvall. Ekvall's research into companies with a creative environment led to his discovery of 10 dimensions of the climate. One of those was the level of Trust and Openness - to what extent does everyone feel valued and important? The first line of the AVP mission statement reads: To empower people to lead nonviolent lives through affirmation, respect for all, community building, cooperation, and trust.
What I like about this is how it reflects the nurturing and development of an overall work, family, team...culture of honest, open, non-hidden agenda style behavior. Workplace Folklore is an interesting term describing traditions of culture. Kinda cool to recognize the influence.



I went to Fortune's conference ages ago in April but met this company - and they included highlights from the conference on their site. It was generous of them to share that learning and I thought I'd point to it, since there's some good stuff in there. Yamamoto Moss: Notes on Trust



Creative Tourism




Creative Environment

In 1961 Mel Rhodes put forth the results of his attempt at finding a unifying definition of creativity. As many would expect, he failed. However, as we know, failure is often the door to success and Rhode's failure is no exception. AS he analyzed definitions he began to observe differences and similarities. His observations became the foundation for a framework which is useful in understanding observations of creativity. Rhode's framework is often referred to as the 4 P's - Person, Process, Product and Press. Press refers to the dynamic interaction of two basic components of the "Creative Climate/Environment): Pyschological and Physical.
Some organizations - PLAY included - have begun to deliberately design their work space to encourage, invite, nurture and support creative behaviors. Adding unusual design elements such as unusual shapes, private talking areas, colorful furniture, open spaces, offices with no names, corrodors designed to encourage mind mingling, etc...all add to the physical characteristics which encourage creative behavior. Classrooms are a classic example...visit any kindergarten/primary shool classroom and you can expect to find a colorful, dynamic space with much to discover and inspire growing minds. Enter higher education classrooms and you begin to expect lectuer style rooms with standard tables and chairs, fewer colors, perhaps a motivational poster or two, no toys or games, etc... In effect, the expectation is to find a more "serious" space for learning. The folks at NewandImproved have an easy to digest message regarding the physical space for creativity.
What do you think? In what way(s) might you design a creative space? Do you have examples?

John F. Kennedy once state "If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow [his/her] vision wherever it may take [him/her]". If the process and application of creative thoughts/behaviors are to nourish the roots of individuals and societies then it is also imperative that we deliberately attend to the task of understanding and creating physical and psychological climates that will nurture them.

Wuzz happening in your neck of the woods?



Looking and Thinking...are they enough?

Nope. The concepts of looking and thinking are directly related to one of the first stages in the creative process, discovery, but do not represent the whole enchilada. Imagine the world in which everyone invests their effort towards looking at more stuff and thinking about it harder...great awareness and awesome thoughts. Additionally there must be some form of action to create and maintain purposeful value of new awareness and thoughts. For example, in the early formation of the PureContent blog there was a high level of awareness created and a sharing of awesome thoughts. The forum became well known quickly as a direct result of looking, thinking, and acting. Contributions were many and quality was high. Recently the PureContent blog appears to be stuck as potential contributors have locked into observational mode and leapt out of contribution (action) mode.
If we think of creativity as Dr. Ruth Noller (an early pioneer in the creativity research field) did in terms of three areas perhaps it will bring another layer to our understanding of creativity. The three areas of creativity she described are Personal, Recognized and Transformative. Personal represents that which is new and useful to the individual who thought it up. It represents what is unique to the individual such as special hobby talents and/or ones' personaly style. Adding a social element brings us to Recognized creativity which represents what is new and purposeful to larger communities, groups, organizations and society at large. It represents highly utilitarian novelty...automobile, airplane, dishwasher, electric range, etcetera. The result is often seen as increased efficiency in the way something gets done. At the Transformative level we find those discoveries, outcomes, actions, methods, process...which fundamentally alter individuals, societies, and cultures. Such high level creativity is represented by nuclear energy, internet communications, or revolutions such as Women's rights, Colonial, Industrial...etc...
Open to other's insights I offer a thought... Perhaps the PureContent blog, at this moment in time, represents one of the greatest challenges to applied creativity...sustained value. I think this forum was born of an Individual who was higly interested in creating a new and valuable sharing and discovery forum temporarily Recognized by a particular community.
Contiunuously challenged by the thoughtful and actively engaged Individual PureContent continued to grow. When the Individual was 'removed' from the community its degree of Recognition decreased.
For creative achievments/contributions to achieve sustained value requires the continued contribution of Individual which is recognized and Transforms the culture in which it is introduced. Without Transformation...Individual contributions are required to sustain 'creative' momentum through group Recognition.
Simply put, PureContent represents a creative achievement driven by consistently valuable contributions made by individuals. Without valuable individuals there will be no recognition (meaningful community involvement).
In what way(s) might we challenge the PureContent Street Team and the PLAY Oraganization Team communitiy to bring this forum to a higher level of meaningful interaction?
How might the members of PLAY post informative insights? - round Robin sharing...commit to one post each per week...invite a personal friend to provide an insight...
How might the PureContent Street Team post informative insights? - Commit to one post each/week...keep a list of most interesting websites visited during the week and publish it weekly...
How might the publisher of this message post informative insights? --- perhaps a weekly commentary, facilitate dialogue on a particular post...suggest a them for each week...

I'd like to propose the following (flexible) structure for the next 4 weeks starting Monday Sept. 1st. Week one will focus on contributions related to the Creative Environment. (What are the characteristics, dynamics, attributes...of an environment which supports, enourages and sustains creativity?) Week two will focus on contributions related to the Creative Person. (What are the characteristics, traits, skills, abilities of creative people? Who are creative people? Why?....) Week three will focus on what are the elements of the Creative Process and week four will focus on what are the necessary attributes needed for us to identify a Creative Product?

Look.Think. Act.

anyone wanna play?




Magic Ink



Creativity Pool

Got Ideas? Write 'em down!!! The Creativity Pool is an open source for ideas of all kinds. Ideas can happen at anytime and can be lost just as quickly. Maintaining an idea capturing system...notebook, pda memo, voice recorder, corporate suggestion scheme etc...is a hallmark of many highly recognized creative people (the special talent type). What I like about the creativity pool is the fact that it's ideas out in the open. Too often we keep our ideas to ourselves and they never have a chance to become real. I know there's a lot of talk about how we often don't share our ideas because we're afraid of being laughed at, ridiculed, or reprimanded. We all know of idea killers such as "we've never tried that before", "it's not in the budget", "that could never work", "the way it is works fine"... How about the more subtle kind of subterfuge? The fear that someone else might profit from your idea without ever getting credit. The fear that a 'subbordinate" with the 'great idea' is going to steal your job. The Creativity Pool...just a place to take a few laps, wade arround in shallow waters or do a cannonball and leave a splash.


who / what / why

At Play we create brands, strategies, new products, and better cultures for Fortune 100 companies. Our formula for creativity: "Look at more stuff. Think about it harder." Pure Content is one place where we do that, daily.

the cool kids' table

Ben Domenech
(politics, football, and a boatload of know-how)

Creative Generalist
(if Pure Content had a doppelganger ...)

Heath Row
(punk + business
+ creativity = Heath)


go go gadget google:

stuck in an airport

A Pattern Language

Creative Company
Orbiting the Giant Hairball
The Ultimate Book of Business Creativity

The Little Prince

Wittgenstein's Poker

The Dancing Wu Li Masters

The Tipping Point

new to you

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see our neighbors
Comments by: YACCS