time's up

figuring out who should buy your business

Coulda Woulda Shoulda

One can always find good information when looking hard enough. A shame to say that I had to comb Two Beats Ahead multiple times for such wisdom. First, it’s an unfocused mess as authors Panos Panay & Michael Hendrix apparently couldn’t decide between writing a business book about innovation or a collection of not-so-humble brags about their own careers, so they did both. It’s too cutesy by half – bitch please with the “samples” and “liner notes” and “hidden tracks,” never mind the incongruent playlists bolted on to the end of each of its nine chapters – and their fanboy fawning over celebrities they interviewed gets old right quick.

Mercifully, there are some lessons to extract. To wit:

  • Moguls Jimmy Iovine & Dr. Dre swiftly reacted at the onset of Napster to develop Beats by Dre, figuring pirated digital music may as well sound great.
  • The authors admonish, always be on high alert: “How do you know when you should change direction? Again: the key is to say open and keep listening.”
  • “Design thinking” is a worthy concept whereby colleagues collaborate on building ideas by breaking down a product (or service) to its most basic components.
  • For her critically lauded Lemonade project, BeyoncĂ© proved a remarkable collaborator, showing broad trust in others in the layered formation of its songs.
  • “Don’t get ready, get started” is an IDEO axiom that spurs the creation of prototypes. Think of it as a band’s demo, or how an idea first gets put to work.
  • Like Daniel Kahneman’s view of discovering what something is true of, here the advice is to believe that an original idea, posed as a question, has many answers.
  • Producer T Bone Burnett reminds us to never micromanage. It was a session musician snapping at Burnett that helped shape his get-out-of-the-way approach.
  • Lady Gaga “knows her stage, knows how to read an audience, and makes each opportunity an artistic statement tailored to the situation,” and she credits…
  • David Bowie. Tempted to repurpose Ziggy Stardust, he was convinced by an advisor to not mess with his fans’ perception of the character, to keep evolving.
  • Who knew? At the onset of the iPhone, Fujifilm execs reevaluated the company’s identity by leveraging its UV protection chemistry into a skin-care startup.

That’s all, folks. Here’s to next month’s entry being better organized, more focused, and actually worth reviewing.