Today is a milestone. It seemed so far away, so long ago. In one’s youth, which you are sure will never end, there are no thoughts of aging. There are times when you wished you were older, for lots of reasons. Can’t wait to get out of the house. Stop bossing me around, etc. No time, none, was wasted thinking about middle age or old age. And that’s exactly the way it should be.

But the arrow of time is strict and true and flies in only one direction. At least as far as we know. Our brains have an astounding ability to monitor time. Down to parts of a second. However, wrapping our minds around large blocks of passing time, to look out over the horizon of our hurtling life, is not as easy. There are examples everywhere. Where does the time go? Is it almost Thanksgiving? How did that happen? I’m short on time, so give me the quick version.

Then there’s that chilling bit of lyric in Pink Floyd’s classic song Time.

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over,
Thought I’d something more to say.

In my 20’s that song was on an endless loop and every once in a while I would think. Yeah, I should get busy.

Today I am 65 years old. I feel somewhat prepared for it. At least I think so. Retired from the formal working world, having put in forty-two years. My first official day of work was the day Elvis Presley died, August 16, 1977. I was getting ready to report to work in a local bookstore when the news came over the television.

I had the good fortune of never having been without a job during that time. Was not fired, laid off, furloughed or pushed out. That is as much about luck as anything else.

I am in good health, but of course I’m slower and more forgetful. Many of my body parts ache and my skin is thinning. I cannot reverse it.

Growing old is not for the timid. In fact, my recommendation is don’t do it.

One must try and see the positive things in all situations. I am more pleasant now, I believe. I smile more easily and am less cranky. I see beauty everywhere. Age is the gift of time, but time doesn’t come with an instruction manual. It doesn’t care if you waste it or use it wisely. Kill time and you murder success the saying goes. That is mostly true.

I have a wonderful, beautiful wife and two amazing sons. Even in these stressful times I feel more secure now than ever. Perhaps I am growing up. And not a minute too soon.

Time written by: David Jon Gilmour / Nicholas Berkeley Mason / George Roger Waters / Richard William Wright

Caution: Universe Change

Today we lost an hour from our clock as daylight savings time made its return. That seems appropriate. Here in Chicago we vaulted from fall right into spring, bypassing the mess of winter we are usually required to endure. It’s the universe’s way of trying to keep up with the manic pace of convergence here on earth. Expect this to continue. It’s not climate change, it’s universe change. Things are expanding and speeding up and no you can’t stop it.

We used to say, “I”m going to go on the computer.” We would step down to the basement or enter our study and approach a massive control center. Something resembling a large television occupied much of the our desk space. The PC was called a “tower.” If you were brave enough to look behind that tower you would see a tangle of dozens of umbilical cords criss-crossing their way to various devices. All of it encased in a deep layer of protective dust. Everything was stationery. You had to make a pilgrimage to the altar of technology to experience a computer.

We no longer go on the computer. The computer is “on us”. It encases us. Surrounds us in a halo of spectrum. No cords, no large workspace footprint for a non-interlace monitor needed. One can easily lose a computer today. There is no friction between our curiosity and the all knowing internet. Think about that for a moment.

In her latest book Alone Together, Why we Expect more from Technology and Less from Each Other, Sherry Turkel writes.

Now we know that once computers connected us to each other, once we became tethered to the network, we really didn’t need to keep computers busy. They keep us busy. It is as though we have become their killer ap.

Indeed computers may be sorry they became so powerful. We are constantly clicking, tapping, pinching and swiping them to find out what they have been curating since the last check in. If they are slow we curse. There will be no rest for them, ever again.

This has major implications for marketers who now need to be digital domain experts and social mavens in order to gain value for their campaigns and results. We will need to bring in mobile, social and the web. This means the corporate site of course, but it extends well beyond a web site into society at large. It will require mastery of time and space and behavior. Something very different that we have had to do in the past. Tell them (yourself) to get going and fast. Before we lose another hour. Oh and by the way, Web 2.0 is irrelevant.


The Business Profit Time Horizon

There are countless perspectives in the business world. The one we are most familiar with and where we spontaneously go when looking for solutions to business problems, is of course our own. But that represents only a small part of the overall picture. Being able to project yourself into someone else’s shoes expands your thinking and helps fill in the puzzle of reality. It is a very useful skill, but extremely hard to do on a regular basis. Honing this art will be extremely helpful as you look to successfully navigate a large company and get things done / change things.

There’s a side benefit as well. You will enrich your own development and round out something that is a requirement to advance to the next level.

One of the tricks I use to help me transport into another’s mind is to try to identify their business profit time horizon. In other words, is their perspective being filtered through a short term, mid term or long term lens? Generally the higher you go in an organization the shorter the profit time horizon becomes (yes profit, because it’s a business). On the surface it seems counterintuitive because leaders at the most senior level are suppose to be visionaries. True enough, but they know if they don’t meet short-term profit goals it won’t matter, because there won’t be long term anyway.

Firms have reporting levels for numerous reasons. One of them is to ensure that bright, focused minds can thrive. Another is to ensure no one person, perhaps working in a vacuum, initiates work. Perspectives are drawn into the discussion and the end result is most often far superior to the original thought (wisdom of the crowd). Senior managers want to know four things. When am I getting it? How much does it cost? What’s it worth? How can you scale it?

Time Horizon Rule of Thumb

  • If you’re a CEO you are trying to close the week
  • CMO’s are looking to close the month
  • The VP’s want to deliver a positive outcome for the quarter
  • This leaves it to the Directors to look at an entire year or beyond

Keeping this construct in mind when I’m working on an idea is helps me anticipate other perspectives. It also reminds me why people make the comments they make when I describe my ideas. What are your ways you break out of your walled garden?

iPod Nano to Become a Touch Watch

Scott Wilson is the founder of Chicago based design firm MINIMAL, and he has a new project. Mr. Wilson and his colleagues are working to integrate the Apple iPod Nano into the first multi-touch wrist watch. How cool is that! Scott’s studio seems to have the chops to do this, having worked in technology, interaction and consumer products, with brands like Dell, Microsoft, Apple and Steelcase on groundbreaking designs, including the new Xbox Kinect. His obvious passion for design has fueled this new, exciting project.

I am a collector of classic watches. It’s arguably the only jewelry accessory that men have in their otherwise flat fashion regime. Choosing a serious watch is a pure gentlemen’s action. Face, case, strap, size and movement combine to make a statement about position, personality and lifestyle. There are so many types and styles of watches, and I most often gravitate to the classic designs and brands. I’m traditional in what I choose, and at the end of the day I carefully place my time piece into an electric winder. Normally I wouldn’t be attracted to a mash-up design like this, but when I saw the video and the way in which they were so thoughtfully incorporating the Nano into the case and band, I wanted to have one. In fact, I wanted to have both of the designs, the TikTok and the LunaTik.

Exploded view of the LunaTik design with a Nano

They have a clever way of funding this project. You can back them with as little as $1 or step-up and essentially pre-pay for one or both of the watch band designs. Once you select your pledge level you connect with your Amazon account and pay for it through their commerce engine. Very smooth. Will I wear them when they arrive? I honestly don’t know. I think it will work for me in certain settings. If not, I can pass them along to either of my two sons. I’m sure they will love them, but of course they will expect the gift include the Nano.

LunaTik bottom view

Apple works hard at making things smaller. When Steve Jobs keynoted the Nano launch he mentioned that it might transform to a watch some day. That day is near. Follow the progress of this project and find out how you can back it yourself  here.

Speed, I am Speed

Is it just me, or have you noticed that things are moving much faster than they used to? Of course I’m getting older (we all are by the way), and everyone knows the older you get the faster time seems to pass. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the velocity at which technology and computing are advancing, and how that will have significant implications on medicine, media and culture. Time has not been altered. There are still 24 hours in each day and the seasons seem to be turning at their normal pace. But there are now so many people working and collaborating to solve problems that technology now has it’s own time, and it’s highly accelerated. The web has been a big factor here. It is easy to post out projects or problems, and when you do you get hundreds of people responding. Scientists are and have always been the leaders in collaboration, after all the web was created by and for them. The rest of us just got an incredible benefit.

Earlier this year I was at an Interwoven conference in San Francisco. Interwoven is a global organization and a leader in providing firms with solutions to effectively leverage their content to drive business results and improve the customer experience. I have recently begun to work with them and so was invited to attend their leadership conference. On the second day Ray Kurzweil gave an amazing presentation called Early in the Twenty-First Century, Knowledge and Content will Underlie Everything of Value. Ray is an inventor, futurist, business man, many more things, and overall I would say a genius.I was so relieved to see his presentation because it validated what I had suspected along. Things are increasing in speed. He said so many things like, “Information technologies (of all kinds) double their power (price performance, capacity, bandwidth) every year.” This slide of Mr. Kurzweil’s illustrates it nicely.


According to Kurzweil, “Every form of communications technology is doubling in price-performance, bandwidth, capacity every 12 months.” He spoke of the work going on to reverse engineer the brain with powerful computers, and by 2010, computers disappear into our bodies. And by 2029 there will be an intimate merger of man and machine. The human brain will be completely reverse engineered, and $1,000 of computation will equal 1,000 times the human brain, illustrated by this slide


Things are going faster. We can expect to see some exciting changes over the next 20 years or so, and we should prepare ourselves and our children for it. I will leave you with one last quote from Mr. Kurzweil, “If you understand something in just one way, you don’t understand it at all.”Link to Ray’s site here.