Monday, October 26, 2009

Music Monday: Fanfarlo (London by way of Sweden)

Last week the Hype Machine churned out this sweet little gem of a band for me. Fanfarlo formed in 2006 but I'd not heard of them until CMJ 2009 was approaching. I'm not sure how this one escaped my attention because, as is well documented, I love Swedish musicians, even if they later move to London, like Fanfarlo's Simon Balthazar.

The band plays around with lots of instruments - mandolins, drums, xylophones, horns. Balthazar's voice is an instrument in and of itself -- very unique and, at times, haunting. This summer they offered their album for $1 online (kind of like "pulling a Radiohead," if I can say that and get universal understanding) and I hope they sold a bunch of copies.

"Finish Line" (posted by BrooklynVegan) makes me to be a shoegazer.

Here are some other good tracks using a MySpace pop-out player

For fans of Matt Pond PA, Belle & Sebastian, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, trumpets, lazy days

Caren Explains Halloween Options

Halloween is probably my least favorite holiday of the year, next to Flag Day (which apparently nobody likes... it doesn't even have a Hallmark card).

But as a kid? Boy-oh-boy, did I like Halloween! Can you blame me? Look at the awesome Halloween costume my mom made me:

Among my favorite costumes of all time:
- Age 9: Carmen Sandiego
- Age 11: Phantom of the Opera
- Age 3: Care Bear

This year, I wish I could dress up and go trick-or-treating. There are so many good costume options that have been inspired by ridiculous, fame-seeking reality-stars. Wouldn't you like to see these as costumes, though?

- Falcon's balloon
- Octomom
- Kate Gosselin [Note: the wig actually exists]
- Corey the Sunglasses Guy

Other good ideas?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Caren Explains Britney, Peter, Paul and Mary 3

I am embarrassed to admit that I've liked the past few Britney singles. The most recent -- "3"-- is pretty darn catchy... but I always scratch my headwhen I hear the lyrics:

1, 2, 3
Peter, Paul & Mary
Gettin' down with 3P

Peter, Paul & Mary? Really? Nothing about "Puff the Magic Dragon" makes me think about "gettin' down" with Britney.

This leads me to two questions:
1) Could the record label not afford to get some better songwriting?, or...
2) Is the American consumer so easily bought that quality no longer matters?

If it's the first, I would like to let the record label know that I'm available for hire. Okay, I admit, my songwriting credits are non-existent, but I know how to rhyme as well as your current roster of songwriters. Here are some other ideas for that "Peter, Paul and Mary" line:

- Larry, Moe and Curly
- The snake got Adam and Eve
- Nash, Stills and Crosby
- Faith, hope and charity
- The Brothers Bee Gee
- Huey, Dewey, Louie
- The good, the bad, the ugly

3 - Britney Spears

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Caren Explains the Link between E-Ink and ZINK

Since the school year started I've had the opportunity to learn from a number of CEOs and executives, all hailing from different industries and countries. Yesterday it was Jeff Hicks, CEO of one of my favorite agencies, Crispin Porter + Bogusky; today it was Wendy Caswell, CEO of ZINK Imaging, a company that is pursuing a vision of "digital printing, now magically simple."

Polariod PoGo Instant Digital Camera, utilizing ZINK paper + tech

This is the second digital ink case study I've read this month, the first being one about E-Ink Corporation, the electronic paper manufacturer that makes the Kindle come alive.

Though we don't get to hear from case protagonists or guest speakers every day, I do find their occassional insights to be a good dose of reality when thrown into the b-school setting. [That's what I think is missing in your argument against live speakers @rafaelcorrales]. It's a reminder that you don't know what you don't know -- for better or worse.

Former E-Ink CEO Jim Iuliano spoke during one of my classes in September, and some of his comments and insights were echoed today by Caswell (and are applicable to many innovative, tech-driven ventures). First, that learning happens in the market, not the labs. The second is an extension of that thought. As Iuliano explained, "Perfection is not worth waiting for."

This go-to-market strategy certainly carries significant risk and requires that business partners are willing to go along for the ride. For these reasons, it's not surprising that the MBA classroom can be very critical of such a strategy, arguing that a company should thoroughly plot its market strategy, or perfect the technology, before launching -- and maybe that's true. But to hear both of these experienced leaders advocate a 'get-in-there-and-learn-as-you-go' strategy (or "stick with it and chunk it up," as Caswell said) warrants more consideration, especially in markets that have yet to be developed.

Is it better to shoot for the moon, or footrace to the top?