Angela Ahrendts: Starting Anew

Angela Ahrendts discusses her start at Apple and what you should do when starting at new job, in a LinkedIn blog post

First: “Stay in your lane.” You’ve been hired because you bring a certain expertise to the team and the company. Try to resist putting additional or undue pressure on yourself trying to learn it all from day one. It's human nature to feel insecure about everything you "don't know". By staying focused on your core competencies you will be able to contribute much sooner, add greater value long term, and enjoy and have more peace especially in the early days.

I've been following the work of Angela Ahrendts at Burberry for a while. Working with Christopher Bailey they were doing really awe-inspiring work with technolovy, social and physical design at their retail stores. When it was announced that she had left the CEO position to join Apple I was surprised. I've been looking forward to seeing how her sensibilites and perspective will change Apple. Since WWDC this year we've begun to see Apple go through a transition into the next phase of the company. And now to see Ahrendts blog publicly discussing the company and her role in it is such an unexpected move from the secretive company. I am looking forward to the next Apple consumer event where they introduce new products and Ahrendts comes out to discuss the retail operation. It is an exciting time. 

In Modern Marketing, a Big Dose of Data in the Creative Juices

Claire Cain Miller, NY Times Bits Blog:

Computers are once again transforming the business of marketing, infusing the art with science. This time, though, the change is being driven by cloud computing and the processing of huge amounts of data about what customers do and what they desire.
Unlike the computer on “Mad Men,” which took up an entire room, the computers processing the data are not even in marketers’ offices but in far-off data centers. But just as in the fictional company depicted on “Mad Men,” the new technology is causing tensions among the quants, or quantitative data analysts, the artists and the information technologists.
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For consumers, the result is personalized marketing.
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Ideally, consumers do not notice the computing and data-crunching in the background and instead just see more relevant messages from brands, said Ian Schafer, chief executive and founder of Deep Focus, a digital agency. But when marketing is too personalized, it can feel creepy.

Meet The Godfather Of Wearables

Maria Konnikova, The Verge, introduces us to Alex Pentland:

Pentland might be credited as the grandfather of wearable tech, but he does have a few predecessors: more than a decade before he arrived at MIT, mathematician Edward Thorp and computational theorist Claude Shannon devised an intricate contraption with the admirable goal of cheating at the roulette table. The device, which was the size of a cigarette case and captured speed data on both the wheel and the ball, relied on two switches in the wearer’s shoes: one press turned on the computer, the other press initiated the timing. A musical tone would sound in the bettor’s ear to signal when the ball had three or four revolutions left — he would (naturally) be wearing a hearing-aid-like device, attached to the computer by wires camouflaged to match his skin and hair.
Though Thorp and Shannon’s invention was ingenious, it remained unwieldy, capable of performing only a single task. It would take much more to make wearable technology both widely functional and widely usable. And that "more" came from the first place dedicated exclusively to the creation of wearables: the Wearable Computing Project, inaugurated by Pentland upon returning to MIT in 1986, and then formally launched as its own entity in 1998 under the auspices of Pentland’s lab.
The first wearable prototypes that looked anything like those of today emerged from the lab in the early 1990s. And by 1998, Pentland’s "wearables closet" had grown, he recalls, to include "glasses with a private, full-resolution computer display; a health monitor in a watch that records my temperature, heart rate and blood pressure; a computer-in-a-belt with a wireless internet connection; a lapel pin that doubles as a camera and microphone; and a touchpad or keyboard literally sewn into a jacket."

All the recent talk about wearables continues to intensify as the various developer conferences happen and we see (or not) what the main players are thinking in this area. I still believe that the key to this market is going to be the company or product that utilizes software and hardware to actually encourage behavior change. Many reports indicate people start using wearables and within months seize to wear them. It's all in the name, if you are not wearing them they don't really help you. And the best wearable is a good habit.  

Why You Hate Work

Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath, The New York Times

More broadly, just 30 percent of employees in America feel engaged at work, according to a 2013 report by Gallup. Around the world, across 142 countries, the proportion of employees who feel engaged at work is just 13 percent. For most of us, in short, work is a depleting, dispiriting experience, and in some obvious ways, it’s getting worse.

Demand for our time is increasingly exceeding our capacity — draining us of the energy we need to bring our skill and talent fully to life. Increased competitiveness and a leaner, post-recession work force add to the pressures. The rise of digital technology is perhaps the biggest influence, exposing us to an unprecedented flood of information and requests that we feel compelled to read and respond to at all hours of the day and night.

Curious to understand what most influences people’s engagement and productivity at work, we partnered with the Harvard Business Review last fall to conduct a survey of more than 12,000 mostly white-collar employees across a broad range of companies and industries. We also gave the survey to employees at two of The Energy Project’s clients — one a manufacturing company with 6,000 employees, the other a financial services company with 2,500 employees. The results were remarkably similar across all three populations.

Employees are vastly more satisfied and productive, it turns out, when four of their core needs are met: physical, through opportunities to regularly renew and recharge at work; emotional, by feeling valued and appreciated for their contributions; mental, when they have the opportunity to focus in an absorbed way on their most important tasks and define when and where they get their work done; and spiritual, by doing more of what they do best and enjoy most, and by feeling connected to a higher purpose at work.