Archive for May, 2009

Hominds. Humans. Hybrids. The Neanderthal Parallax Trilogy . Robert J. Sawyer

Author Robert J. Sawyer, taken in 2005 by Caro...
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Hominds. Humans. Hybrids. The Neanderthal Parallax Trilogy . Robert J. Sawyer.

  1. Hominds  2002. ISBN 0765345005.
  2. Humans 2003. ISBN07653467543
  3. Hybrids 2003. ISBN  076534906X

For all those readers of my posts who have asked for some fiction reviews, here comes not one, but three ( I read many fiction books a month but usually do not post a review- but some want lighter reading)

Sawyer is a prolific and gifted  Canadian writer who postulated what would happen if there was a parallel physically identical world to ours where the Neanderthals became the dominant species? Because they had bigger brains, they were slightly more intelligent than /ahead of  Homo Sapiens.  They built a quantum computer that accidently allowed them to cross over to our world.  The ensuing sequences of events takes up the trilogy. It is tautly written, gripping and filled with some of the best science writing I have seen in a long while.  His reference science articles really exist and his science is workable.  The story spans under two years and is filled with action, drama and some very penetrating questions about sustainability, religion, politics, and many of our basic beliefs.  You will not only enjoy the fiction, the questions will give your brain a work out. A great Canadian piece of adult work that you can give your teenager to spark some real conversation.  My youngest son gave these to me and I thank him.  Check out

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Smartphone apps market is getting tougher

iPhone versus Smartphone
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The Smartphone business  apps market is getting tougher,  but  all markets get tougher over time. We can thank the iPhone “noise”  and the deluge of applications it has spawned for this.

So what usually happens to a business  market when it becomes innundated with lower value consumer priced applications? General perceptions of value are reduced and quickly. Also market noise (sizzl)  rises dramatically to drown out all messages.  What has worked before becomes less and less effective.

It has been seen before  where a pricing expectation is reset in a product category.

  • the Palm Pilot market evolved to a point where the “floor” price for applications became quite low.
  • add-ons for Quicken/Quick Books are “hemmed in” by the purchase cost of Quickens products , setting a price expectation in the purchaser, which creates a sales challenge for robust add ons.
  • some early Blackberry applications took marketshare  away from heavily “customized” mobile hardware/software solutions by players such as Motorola.
  • the Open Shop movement in construction reset all pricing in all construction leading to an erosion of “union’ power.

We are seeing this erosion  at the moment in the smartphone market.  The deluge of iPhone applications (many of which are very lite in content and low in cost) is impinging on the perceived value of serious (enterprise) business applications on the Blackberry and to a lesser state (there are fewer) the iPhone and Windows Mobile.

We see mobile enterprise apps,  which had required some serious heavy development lifting to get to where they are today,  are starting to face some serious sales challenges.  The target enterprise customer has a changed idea of what is value in his market.

The challenge for a serious app developer when this happens is to be able to respond with very precise marketing and sales messages which  more clearly state the product value to the correct audience which still values this . Technical “early market” developers have much trouble with this as they have been able to get to where they are without a mature marketing/sales approach.

Costs of sales and marketing has to go up to drive sales volume.  The “technicallly ” driven firm does not realize this until it is much too late.  At the same time, the internal teams have to work to drive down all costs, while looking to build a “family’ of products as the golden goose starts to lose its glitter. The company has to become very smart about its market, while remaining smart about its technology. Many companies just do not possess the marketing DNA to be able to do this on their own.

Companies which are “on the bubble” with few retained earnings at this time are unlikely to be able to survive.  Many times,   consolidation at a reduced value seems like the only way to stay in business.

In past posts I have talked about the positive impact of Precision Sales and Marketing. It is now the turn of the Smartphone market to take notice of these changes and their need to be precise in sales and marketing.

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Finding the Sweet Spot. The natural entrepreneurs guide to responsible, sustainable, joyful work. Dave Pollard

Finding the Sweet Spot. The natural entrepreneurs guide to responsible, sustainable, joyful work. Dave Pollard. 2008. ISBN 9781933392905.  A guide to finding where your gifts, passions and purpose interact.  I could not put this book down. Just when I thought I had heard a lot of this before, Pollard would come up with the twist that really made sense. He is a skilled writer, who pulls a lot out of the reader.  So much in this little book (195pp)  For example we all too often find work due to our gifts, rarely do we share the passion of our hobbies at work and even less so have we found our purpose for being here. The author gives you a blueprint on how to help yourself find all this.  In another section , he quickly much of what my firm, Rocket Builders, used to consider its own secret sauce wrto effective market research methods and meaningful analysis.  You could say this is one chapter or a whole book on meaningful innovation.  A surprise and a joy to read.   Hard to  believe the author was an accountant for 27 years and not a journalist.

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The Pixar Touch. The making of a company. David A Price

Pixar Animation Studios
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The Pixar Touch. the making of a company. David A Price. 2008. ISBN 9780307265753.  I so love it when a business  journalist writes a good book.  Good fact checking, clear prose and concise language.  Much of this story has been covered in the Steve Jobs autobiography.  This book gives a better treatment of the founders of Pixar, before Jobs came on the scene, right up to Disney buying Pixar.  The treatment of Jobs is quite kind ( unlike how he treats others).   If you are interested in how large animation projects really come together , or like me you just have to know things, this is a really great read .  262 pp which should do you for a RT one coast to the other, or a long weekend read. Lesson learned , great things are not done by reasonable men.

Building a ‘Safe Haven’ for Creativity at Pixar (

Pixar gambles on Up (

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Pandemic. Daniel Kalla

[snag from Epoch Times] Pathogenic Politics: I...
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Pandemic. Daniel Kalla. 2005. ISBN 076535084x.  It started as the flu…..  What if terrorists “weaponized”   a killer flu and sent martyrs out to infect the rest of the world?  Kalla is a Vancouver doctor, who write this after the SARs scare.  Move over Robin Cook here is another author who can scare you while you are sitting on your sofa.  Good pace, and better character development than most “popular” writers bother with these days.    Might be hard to find as he did not hit that hard on the best seller lists. (This review is for all my friends who wanted me to also list my “fiction” reads.  If I don’t watch much  TV – I get more reading in)

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All for One. 10 strategies for building trusted client partnerships. Andrew Sobel

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All for One. 10 strategies for building trusted client partnerships. Andrew Sobel. 2009 U|ISBN 9780470380284.  If your goal is to build great client relationships as a trusted partner (giving you long lasting, challenging, profitable good work) then Sobel has written the book for you.  The author was a senior VP with Cap Gemini and wrote previously  Making Rain, and Clients for Life  both of which are also excellent sources for the service professional.  There is too much in the book to summarize in this review – but he has lotsof great information at  He is a good clear writer and this is a book to read a few times – once to glean and then again to savour.  He could be a good example for top producer salespeople anywhere.

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Taming the Search and Switch Customer. Earrning customer loyalty in a compulsion-to-compare world. Jill Griffin

Shelly and Todd REALLY enjoyed the food.
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Taming the Search and Switch Customer. Earning customer loyalty in a compulsion-to-compare world. Jill Griffin. 2009. ISBN 9780470345047.

The author is called the Loyalty Maker and this book is evidence that she really does know her stuff. see The book covers large and small B2C and B2B sales so well.  The compulsion to compare seems to be now part of our human nature.

Her thoughts about using some of the new solution media channels are bang on.  The demographics in clients are changing and the new guys on the block are used to the social media. They are certainly keen on using the Internet to keep all vendors honest. Your product/service can rise and fall on customer reviews online.

The chapters are short enough that you can take it all in and she uses good real world examples to illustrate the points. I think sales is all about the story and the author has good stories.  I  think that any business person  would benefit from reading this book.  Very readible, highly interesting and perfect for a coast to coast plane ride. So pick it up and enjoy it.

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brain rules. 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home and school. John Medina

2nd half of 14th century
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brain rules. 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home and school. John Medina. 2008. ISBN 9780979777707.  Absolutely fascinating book. Check him  out and He lists out 12 rules but there could be many more, and if you were like me you would want Medina to just keep going.  If you have always wondered why we are the way we are- you will enjoy this book. If you are a parent , you must read this book.  If you present information for learning of ny kind and you want to make a difference, you must read this book and put the principles into practise.  I loved this book, I  devoured it.  This author knows how you think and has written a book that you can really learn from. Enough,   go out and buy it!

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