Famous or useful?

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If you’re famous you don’t have to be useful. A while ago, I had an assignment to present to a small group: the CMOs of a massive media company. Since this company had a dozen major media brands, there were about twelve people in the room. They had tapped me after having me speak to … Continued

A holiday wish

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30 years ago a new person came into my life. 23 years ago another. Nearly 20 years ago, another. None of these people became who I imagined them to be. They have surprised me. But all of them have enriched me beyond belief. My family is my touchstone. What I wish for you is not … Continued

At Tesla, the customer experience falls far short of the car

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I bought a Tesla. The experience of buying it was terrible. Analyzing the reasons for this is a great exercise in thinking through customer experience. This is not my first electric car. I’m a believer. Six years ago, I bought a Nissan Leaf. My family has been very happy with it. The maintenance costs are … Continued

Reflections on the inauspicious debut of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony

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Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is the greatest single piece of music humanity has ever produced. I was, however, surprised to learn that this epochal work, rather than bursting successfully onto the world’s consciousness, had a problematic and stumbling debut and took years to be recognized. There is surely a lesson here for anyone attempting to create. … Continued

An editor’s notebook: coda

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All this week, I’ve looked for lessons from the hundreds of thousands of words I’ve edited in the last few years. Here’s a little of what I’ve learned. Writing is difficult. But with enough practice and good coaching, you can get good at it. Editing is a higher level of difficulty. The editor must understand … Continued

Unfair

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I was a math prodigy. But everything changed when I encountered an unfair problem more like the real world than mathematics. Math had always come easily to me. I majored in math at Penn State, and everyone in the department knew I was a student with special abilities. Math sort of shifts on you. In … Continued

My problem with books

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I have a books problem. My parents read Dr. Seuss books to me when I was a child, and that was where it started. Every weekend they would take me to the library. It started with the books on science and astronomy. Once I had read them all, they introduced me to the grownup side … Continued

I predicted Apple would die: “Wake up and smell the toast”

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It was 1996. Gil Amelio had just taken over Apple Computer. My job at Forrester was to predict the future. I was certain that Apple would crater and I said so in print. Steve Jobs had introduced the Lisa and then, the insanely great Macintosh, in 1984. It made a hell of an impact, and … Continued