Abscondo magazine feature
Belle & Sebastian (podcast episode)

A week in Vancouver

Right now I'm in Vancouver, British Columbia on business.  I don't have any harsh or biting sentiment to share (as I did during my recent trip to London).  I like Canadians.  They are like Americans...but a bit less jaded, a bit less detached from reality, a lot nicer and more sensitive.  Vancouver is a bastion of beauty. 


The software company I work for recently hired 6 Americans (including myself) and we are definitely viewed as the "bad guys".  They think we're too focused on results, on revenue, on performance.  It's true that we aren't being very nice, but it is also true that we are turning the company around and ultimately saving the jobs of all these nice people.  It has been interesting to watch a company of 150 people sort of step aside to let us do it.  The transformation, in just these last 8 months, has been unbelievable. 

Our company mission is to really transform the way digital content and services are sold through multiple channels and devices.  It's fun to work in software because, really, we are only paid to think about and discuss ideas.  Sometimes this doesn't even feel like work at all. 

Technologies like ebooks, ipads, game consoles, and OTT Boxes are beginning to thoroughly transform the world of digital content just as iPods have transformed music.  These technologies are disruptive and right now there is a panic in the media and publishing industries.  How do massive, billion dollar companies compete with self-published authors, free content, and such rapidly-changing formats when they made their fortunes in the old analog, print world?  My job is to help top-level executives in these companies dream up disruptive, transformative business models that are even more radical than the very technologies and trends that are threatening their survival.  But the only way to survive and thrive during disruptive times is to live even more disruptively (as true in business as in life).  Getting people to realize, and embrace this isn't easy (even when it is in their own best interest).  Most people fight what is new and different, then someone else comes along and does it instead and they are left wishing they had been that brave or clever.

It's been really fun, from my apartment in Kosice, to be paid to have conversations with executives around the world who are willing to talk to me just so that I can basically tell them that their entire business model is finished.  Of course they already know it at some level, and they are desperate to brainstorm all of the new possibilities.  They have no other choice.  It's also fun to hang out with such smart people who share this mission. 

What we're doing is all about content...all about pushing content out to a consumer audience who is willing to pay for it.  Yet, just now, in the lobby bar at this hotel, I was talking with some of my colleagues.  I suggested that, at some point, people are going to just be fed up with all the shopping, all the content, all the distractions, all the noise.  I pointed out that, after a long day of meetings, our impulse was not to rush to our ipads, our iphones, or our content.  No, we immediately went down to the bar to talk, face-to-face.  We wanted to laugh...to share stories....to exist!  Even an industry veteran who I admire, a 62-year-old who I followed from my last company to this one...a man as respected as anyone in this industry...nodded with depth and understanding to acknowledge this irrefutable statement.

Tomorrow is the company Christmas party.  We are having some sort of karaoke band coming and I already volunteered to sing Neil Diamond.  You know, you have to make it funny in such settings. :-)  But, in truth, I can't wait to fly back to Budapest, to take the train to Kosice, to get home to Sofia and little Isabella.  Here's a picture that Sofia took of our 21-month-old Isabella talking with her Dada on Skype yesterday.  This image is the kind of digital content really I love. :-)