Category Archives: Blatant self promo

A Mystical Union for Shoppers

For years, e commerce gurus have been predicting the death of bricks and mortar stores. They asserted that everything will be bought and sold online.

This has not happened yet, and I believe will not happen. The reason is quite simple. People — me included — enjoy going to stores. It is a pleasure to be in certain physical spaces that stimulate our senses, not just sight, but smell, hearing and touch. And not least of all, it is a pleasure to go there to connect with people.

Federico Marchetti would agree. Marchetti is a pioneer in the luxury e commerce trade, and believes that we are just beginning to appreciate what the web offers.  He says

I didn’t believe  (bricks and mortar stores) would disappear (when I began in e commerce)  and I stand by this today. I believe that a union can be created between the two universes—online and offline—an invisible, borderless integration with technology enhancing the experience. I also believe that we have a profound responsibility to enable and support the next generation of entrepreneurial talent for our industry, be that in technology, design, craftsmanship, sustainability.

That borderless union will be based on adding to the pleasure that shoppers get from the experience.  That pleasure goes beyond just perusing and purchasing items in a store, and includes

  • discovering new things that inspire
  • connecting to people who share our inspiration
  • learning about what goes into the production of the things we enjoy
  • sharing experiences of how well items hold up in use
  • upgrading what we buy based on the pleasure we get from use and ownership
  • re-selling things when we move on
  • chronicling what we have and what we want

Each of the above are activities where online and offline activities will be merged. And when you think about it, few of them have been optimized so far.

The future is ours for the taking!

BTW,  people have been inspired by designing, owning, sharing and talking about precious items for many a century.  Take Anne Boleyn. After her fall from grace and execution, her former husband (Henry VIII) ordered all portraits and images of Anne to be destroyed. Thus, we hardly know what she looked like. And yet, we can know some things about her — through things that are attributed to her. This video by Dr. Kat goes into that. Enjoy!

A New Type of Journalism?

I am a big, big consumer of what is called “news”. Each day, I peruse a number of newspapers, journals, blogs, etc. And I am always looking for how well issues are explained. Sadly, I find that all too often, articles are geared to provide only a superficial understanding of what they are talking about.

Here is the typical format

  • Headline designed to max out page views
  • Next you get a “grabber sentence”, usually a repeat of the headline. In this example
  • Then you get a smattering of facts.  about what has just happening or is happening
  • Then you get the clincher  a superficial conclusion.

Unfortunately, this type of writing does not give the reader much of a chance to develop a deeper understanding of WHY this is happening, or to offer IDEAS for what should be happening.  In other words, it is a subpar learning platform rather than a starting point for discussing the issues involved at a higher level.

Can we do better? Yes.

Some sources are trying to do that now. Vox is one. Vox attempts to go beyond the headlines to explain how we got to where we are, and it does offer ideas.

My idea — Vox is focused mainly on US news. Let’s make this a standard for a new type of journalistic platform that caters to locations and peoples around the world.

A platform that is

  • process rather than position  oriented (think of it as NOT Fox or MSNBC)
  • trustworthy – designed to “call out” things that are not meeting standards for public discussion, and get responses to its ctiiques
  • learning oriented – treating issues as  symptoms of solvable problems rather than just random events
  • future oriented – demanding that we leave the world a better place than we found it

What do you think? Could this be done? If there is enough interest, we might start a thread here about how to build this platform.

The Death of Dialog? How Could that be?

I have been to the mountain top. And on the mountain top, I have seen the future. The future is in paid subscription writing. And I believe in that future!


Think about it. Writers these days have rather poor alternatives to get paid for what they want to do. They may get a salaried job writing for someone else’s interests (like selling cars). But if they want to write about stuff that they believe in, what do they do? Write a book? Forget that one! Start a blog to get ad revenue? No money in that.

The next generation of creativity in writing is coming from platforms like Substack. These places offer writers a chance to build a following on subjects of shared interest.  Substack does this by making it easy to develop subscription based newsletters.

So, I have created a Substack account, and invite you to take a look at my newsletter “Smart Talk”. What is it about?

This post “The Death of Dialog?” gives you a brief intro.

The key takeaway — I offer insights that give you food for thought without the indigestion from academic or overly serious writing.  Hint — the ultimate value of this is getting you into leadership thinking so that you can really get things done with other people. Not power so much (that is another topic) but leadership.  If you are into power, let me know and I will share some thoughts on that topic.

Chick it out, and if this is your kind of thing, subscribe! I will work for you if you do!


Is Jumping the Fire a Cognitive Treat?

We just passed the “summer solstice” here in Tartu (It was last night).  In case you were wondering

The summer solstice, also known as estival solstice or midsummer, occurs when one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt toward the Sun. It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere (Northern and Southern). For that hemisphere, the summer solstice is when the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky and is the day with the longest period of daylight. Within the Arctic circle (for the northern hemisphere) or Antarctic circle (for the southern hemisphere), there is continuous daylight around the summer solstice. On the summer solstice, Earth’s maximum axial tilt toward the Sun is 23.44°. Likewise, the Sun’s declination from the celestial equator is 23.44°.

Summer solstice - Northern and Southern

Estonians celebrate this in one of the most important holidays of the year – St. John’s day (Jaani päev).  This takes place on the 24th.

This cartoon captures the traditional spirit of the event

Argo Ader » Soovitused jaanipäevaks

The celebrations are generally done in family groups and preferably in the country. You build a big bonfire, grill some food, sing songs, play music, dance, and if you can enjoy sauna — all night.

Jaanipäev > Paekaare lasteaed > Tallinn


Estonia - Paradise of the North: How to celebrate Jaanipäev like a ...

Some people like to jump over the fire

📄 Jaanipäev - Esitlus Kõne | Ajalugu

One year, I had to dissuade my dear old dad from trying this!

It is a very mellow type of event – and we hope for good weather and good fellowship!

  • Getting smarter is about making better decisions
  • We can do this with the right mindset and engagement
  • It starts by knowing when and how to ask questions
  • That gets us on the path to adventure and success
  • Best of all, we get to share that adventure with people we care for.


Confidence and Leadership

Over the last years, I have thought deeply about how one can build a path that uses communication skills to become an effective leader.  This post is based on my model.

Rob Asghar wrote an interesting piece for Forbes where he lays out the argument that to become an effective leader, one must build self-confidence above all else.  He writes

Confidence and certainty are two of the most attractive traits in leaders.

I would agree that these are attractive. JFK, for example, had a deep well of self-confidence. So too did Ronald Reagan. And for all of his stupidities and warts, Donald Trump is if anything, self-confident to a fault.

I would part ways with Rob, however, that this magic sauce is based on a belief in the self. To the contrary, I think it is based on a conviction about something larger than the self. A conviction that the self is aligned with forces that empower action that adds value.

It is a critical point. Critical because self-confidence based on the notion that the self is somehow “better” than others is an ego trip. And ego trips inevitably lead to the urge to dominate rather than empower people.

Getting to effective leadership without the ego trip is the foundation of my leadership training.

What do you think?

Why Sit in the Sun When You Can Practice Negotiation?

Negotiation is a key skill set of the 21st century. Why? Because, in a knowledge based society, we are who we are connected with. And those connections are based on negotiated agreements. This is a focus point of our thinking here in Tartu, and one we would love to share!

We are in the final days of our negotiation workshop here in Tartu, and practicing how to talk.

How to talk? Don’t we know how to do that?

We do and we don’t.

We are used to talking about what we want (expressing our intentions and ideas). We are less used to talking based on the effects that we need to achieve.

Intention versus effect. Have you considered the difference? If you want to learn more, let me know in a comment!

Today is our last course day!