Dear Fibergeneration Readers : I wish you and your loved ones a peaceful year 2010. Hope your dreams will come true. Yet don't forget : People are the most important thing to take care of. Being alone makes no sense. Watch the proof here.
Since I'm more and more involved with local projects here in France, I've decided to launch a new blog, to be french-only.
The reason is simple: I'd like to share ideas and facts with French people who don't speak nor read english at all.
Second: as the projects I'm working on are looking after french, rural, local territories, I'm not sure sharing even a small piece of information would be of interest for you my dear non-french readers.
However, I'd like to tell you that this new blog is hosted on the Posterous platform, which I'm discovering today. It's just a fantastic blogging tool: easy, simple, intuitive, yet powerful (e.g. the PicPosterous app on the iPhone).
Does anyone have a clue about Alca-Lu' s stuff there ? I mean, have you read or heard about the French-American firm efforts in the Green sector outside its own corporate PR ? I'm afraid this silence is one of the too many instances of the real situation of the former Telecoms giant: Alcatel-Lucent is dying, like Nortel. Innovate, or die. Simple.
France, my home country, is in bad shape, as the rest of the World. Since beginning of this year, you may have noticed that I've started a new series of posts, titled "That's Why I'd Better Move To The US". The reason is that I love my country so much that I'm desperate seeing how bad things are here.
Of course, as hundreds of thousands of other Frenchies, I do wake up each and every morning asking myself: what can I do for my country today. J.F. Kennedy is still alive out there... However, doing something for the country is not an easy one. More than often, you hit the wall hard. In this case, my strategy is simple: RASPSA, "Reset, And Same Player Shoot Again".
French singer Michel Polnareff wrote a beautiful song back in 1977 when he was banished from residence because of some conflict with the french Tax Administration. There's no better text to tell how I feel this morning about France.
Music by Michel Polnareff, Lyrics by Jean-Loup Dabadie
Brian Solis of TechCrunch just published an outstanding article on entrepreneurship during a downturn time such as the one we are encountering today.
"Fear Kills Businesses, Dead" is a must-read for all of us who are in the Business.
We surely know it already, for most of us have been through the last crisis just a few years ago - remember the Dotcom ? However, some of us may be overhelmed by negative thoughts at the moment, generated by all the bad news we hear of all day long.
Therefore, here's our cure, folks:
"Building Your Business in a Recession
Obviously, capital preservation and cost cutting do not equate to sustenance or growth. The driving factors are poles apart when striving to merely stay alive vs. building a business.
If you’re sheltering cash to focus on development, then cut the services and expenses that will not impede your ability to cross the threshold to market success. If you’re conserving funds to prolong life, then realize that the only fountain of youth is cash itself. Focusing energies on generating revenue, increasing visibility, and enhancing customer loyalty are the most effective strategies for underwriting longevity, and hopefully growth, especially during an economic downturn.
The real question you have to ask yourself is, “How will my customers find me today and tomorrow?”
I’m not sure if this is a newsflash or not, but customers do not typically go out of their way to “discover” your products and companies. They have choices and it’s the job of any marketing and sales-centric business to reach their customers where they go for information—otherwise, they’re out of the decision making process by default. Marketing and sales are the conduits for connecting prospects to your business.
In a down economy, tomorrow’s leaders are born today. It takes vision, focus, and a hyper-connected sense of what customers are seeking, why, and where.
The reality is that there are hard costs tied to customer acquisition and retention. The key is to observe and listen to your customers to ascertain the most active and direct channels to reach and engage them.
Here are several, targeted and affordable suggestions:
1. SEO – Customers actively use search engines to find relevant solutions. Keyword and organic search optimization is an inexpensive and effective means for gaining strategic presence.
2. Blog Relations – It’s not just about news and pitching the A-List, creating a consistent and visible brand requires the inclusion of the authoritative, peer-to-peer blogs that your customers and influencers read for information, help and perspective. Oh, and be wise about using embargoes.
3. Media/Analysts – Reporters and analysts cover your space and by simply writing about your company or product, they can position you as an option among your customers; especially when they’re researching options to validate decisions.
4. Direct Sales – Some of the most successful companies right now are concentrating on direct outreach to the decision makers instead of hoping to influence them from the sidelines.
5. CRM – Building a customer-focused business saves money and increases revenue. Focusing on customers and empowering them improves business processes, product development, and also offsets marketing expenses as “involved and participatory” customers transform from a cost-center into an active surrogate sales force.
6. Participate – Social networks are much more than mere time killers. Participating across the social communities where you’re customers and prospects are active and vocal provides a looking glass into their thoughts, requests, opinions, dislikes, and recommendations. It also provides you with priceless opportunities to combat negative perceptions while also positioning your company as a resource.
7. Thought Leadership – One of the best ways to demonstrate thought leadership is to actively share your thoughts where they count. Contributing articles and posts to industry publications, forums, and blogs increases visibility and unobtrusively contributes to your sales strategy by helping customers find you.
8. Blog and Blog Comments – It may seem trite or perhaps even worthless, but I can guarantee that finding the time to host and contribute to a blog that demonstrates the expertise of you and your team is priceless. People are looking for information and direction, not just from your blog but others as well. Go where they are and offer counsel, contribute to the dialogue and establish trust and authority in the process. Why wouldn’t you position yourself as a resource for your customers or prospects? Too busy you say? Empower your staff. Contract outside experts to contribute to creating a one-stop-shop for insight and direction—just be transparent about their involvement. It costs less than you think to build a community around your product, or at least what it stands for.
9. Network in the real world – Participation isn’t solely relegated to online networks. Opportunities to meet and cultivate relationships in the real world are abundant. Meetups, industry events, groups, unofficial lobbycons associated with your favorite events are continuous and more valuable with your involvement.
10. Involve Your Community – Save money and time by involving your customers in the development process of your new and iterative products as well as your go to market strategy. Alpha customers are often ready to assist with the validation of your business model and also the honest feedback associated with your product benefits and features.
11. Websites are not Just Web Pages – Your Website must make an emotional connection with visitors, while also conveying stories and value propositions that specifically capture the attention of your customers – otherwise, all of your hard work and investment of time and money in sales and marketing campaigns will generate traffic, but lead to a dramatically reduced conversation ratios.
12. Innovate – Always learn and improve everything in order to stay relevant."
This and much more in Solis's post here.
"Darkness Falls Across The Land, The Midnight Hour Is Close At Hand.
Creatures Crawl In Search Of Blood To Terrorize Yours Neighborhood
And Whosoever Shall Be Found Without The Soul For Getting Down
Must Stand And Face The Hounds Of Hell, And Rot Inside A Corpse's Shell." - Thriller, Michael Jackson.
Thrilled by the global economy crisis ? You may think again. Fight like hell the Hell, and prepare a bright sunny future for your children's children.
I'm no guru any longer (people called me *the fiber optics guru* back in the 90's-early 2k's - even at HP/Agilent, that says a lot ;-), however it seems that I do currently share the same trouble than Presentation Design guru Garr Reynolds. Actually, Garr's words in his recent post could be mine - I was to write something on that : " I find myself making more little mistakes and being less satisfied with my work overall unless I can take the time everyday to be alone and focus on one thing at a time. "
Is it aging ? I don't think so : at 48 in 2 months, my brain is still in better shape than most of the Generation Y (just kidding, Facebook readers ;-). My take is - such is Garr's too - that we are overhelmed by this Always-Urgent mode we live in since years. Less and less time to achieve more and more fragmented tasks. This is no new discovery, of course. Yet it's quite disturbing.
Yesterday afternoon, back from a meeting in Paris with young entrepreneur Mathieu Husson and his team, I was hit by a strange thought : "maybe I do too much". I suddenly realized that I may be currently too much immersed in too many open projects.
Then, last night whilst watching French Champion Tsonga fighting hard against Electric Roddick, I took a brief look on Twitter with my iPhone. My wife went sarcastic : "hey, can't you get off the grid for once ?".
So, I remembered the days at Agilent Boeblingen, Germany. We were working hard and fast - 3 years looking like 3 months, that's the one thing that's comes to our mind when we talk about this period. Yet things were organized, the German way. Process, process, process. At the end of the day, it gives you the VW Golf : attention to the details. When I moved from HP/Agilent headquarters in Paris to Boeblingen, I was used to work on 30 different projects at a time. Friends were used to say that I was "Mister 100-ideas a day". After 3 years in Germany, I was doing just a handful of things at a time, and I was doing those quite well, according to our customers and the management.
That was just 6 years ago. What has changed, since then ? Maybe people like Garr and myself and millions of other guys are just too curious and hungry to learn and share. Maybe we're just workoholic. Maybe we're just tech geeks, relying too much on the Internet and the iPhone. Working on our regular job, reading our RSS feeds, blogging, commenting, twitting : we're always "online", and... disrupted.
I have no answer so far, however I have the solution - at least for myself. From now on, I'm going back to the German mode. Check email and reply from 8:00AM to 9:00AM, then leave the incoming messages for the next day. Read and comment the news from 9 till 10. Then work on the priority #1 project until lunchtime (and keep this one at fixed hour). Take a short rest, off the grid. Go back to work at 1:30PM, and work on priority #2 project until tea break. Then get back and work on #3 project until everybody leaves the factory - ooops, until the kids come back home.
There is definitely no new method here. Just basic, time-proven common sense. That's why this post is the very last one I'll write and publish over a week-end !
Thanks to Garr for the reminder, and for the video. Follow the link here for more.
Presentation Zen here.
I've just learned that french fiber optics expert Alain Oudet passed away last sunday. Alain was well-known and highly respected in the french optical communications industry. Together with Regis Trouart and Patrick Desprez, Alain started TDO (Trouart Desprez Oudet), the very first fiber optics training company in the country, back in 1986. In the early 90's, TDO, AMP (now Tyco) and Alcatel (now AlcatelLucent) launched Le Club Optique, a counter-initiative to the famous CREDO created by the cable manufacturer Acome and hardware maker Pouyet (now 3M Telecoms).
Alain and myself never been real "buddies". First of all, I wasn't part of his "inner-circle". Then, we've been pure rivals when I run my own firm, XWinG. Provided that in 1995, after 2 years of operation only, XWinG was taking over the installed base of TDO, thanks to a nice WOM marketing. Last, Regis Trouart joined me as associate in 1994 : it didn't help improving our relationships at all...
In 1997, we were #1 on the market. That pushed TDO to move to another business : fiber networks expertise. Alain quickly became a master of OTDR and dispersions measurements, gaining a pretty strong reputation on the fiber characterization services business in France and other parts of Europe.
As I joined HP/Agilent as a regular employee mid '98, I lost contact with Alain and TDO. When I came back to the french marketplace two years ago, Alain was still the same : smiling, engaging, and... smoking.
I don't know what TDO is going to become now that its leader is gone. Not my business, after all (actually, not exactly true : I'm in the fiber optics training business too. But I don't consider TDO as a rival any longer : we're not on the same page, simple as that). I just know why I haven't met Alain in the alleys of Odebit or the Telecoms Forum in Paris last week.
For the rest of us who were not born with an embedded calculator and did not graduate to an MBA, here's THE video that explains the reason why the World is going right into deep sh*t. Watch and listen to "Marketplace Senior Editor Paddy Hirsch [who] gives
a bubbly explanation of the intricacies of collateralized debt
obligations those financial instruments that got us into this financial
Since a few days, I've got the furious impression that the actual crisis is repeating the very same patterns than the Dotcom' crash *. When I saw the description of the CDO collateralized debt obligations loop, I saw the very same problem than the one we in the Telecoms/IT industry suffered back in 1998-2000, during the first Bubble : the guys who make the big money are totally disconnected from the guys who are supposed to pay. At this time, the whole Telecoms industry was B2B. Remember Telecom'99 in Geneva ? 90% of the exhibitors were there to exhibit their stuff (prototypes, commercial products, booth hostesses) to the other exhibitors. You and me as the real end-user/consumer ? Nowhere to see.
The fact is, once you insert an intermediate party between you and the customer, you screw up the whole stuff. That's exactly what happened with the Dotcom Bubble, wherein every startup was trying to reach you and me with no clue on how do it, whilst every established firm was selling its products roadmap to other established firms with even-greater products roadmap. Anecdote (may I disappear right away from my captain chair if I lie here) : back in november 2000, I heard of a potential deal of 1 billion USD between Nortel and Agilent Technologies. 1 billion USD. For a company (Agilent Technologies) who did $11B for its first year of existence.
The actual turmoil has been caused by the very same defective link with the customer - read : the house' s owner. Watch the video :
Thanks to Garr Reynolds of PresentationZen for the heads up. By the way, why such a video on a blog which aims at everything "presentation" ? Simply because this explanation of a very complex process is made very simple. Mr Hirsch proves that once you master your topic, you don't need Powerpoint. Give me a paperboard, and I'll explain you Fiber Optics ;-)
*post-scriptum : I'm still looking for any information, link, contact name, whatever, on this french researcher who published a study back in september 2003, on the fractals applied to Economy. Back then, the guy simply announced the crisis we're enjoying (joke) today, saying that the downturn is going to be harder and longer than the one we've seen in 2000.
A New Yorker artist and scientist, Harris is leading an outstanding project : "We Feel Fine".
It's all about people' s feelings. Amazingly captivating. Just this little warning : it's so captivating that you may end up spending the whole day exploring the Web through Harris and his team' s eyes. Quite a nice way to forget the rude reality of the daily life at the office ;-)
Dear FiberGeneration Readers : I have the very pleasure to introduce my friend Andrew Luzgin to you.
A Belarus native, Andrew recently moved to Lithuania for a new job. A 200-km-only trip, but a giant quantum leap for someone who lived in a typical former USSR type of country until his 40's.
Since a couple of months, Andrew is discovering a brand new world, both on the business and the private sides. That's why I've asked him to share his once-in-a-lifetime experience with you.
Today is Andrew' s first day as author on this blog. Please forgive his not-so-Oxford english, and enjoy his vision of life. I am convinced that you will learn a lot from Andrew, as I do since three years we are in touch almost every day.
The 2008 Olympics Opening Ceremonies have been the most stunning/impressive/jaw dropping I and probably billions of other people in the Galaxy today ever saw. The final fireworks said it all : China is ready.
With this absolutely unique event, China just has demonstrated its power to the entire planet. They master the Technology, they know the true means of Innovation, and they know how to execute a Life or Death strategic plan.
Maybe a few (thousands) people outside of Asia knew it already - have you ever dealt with a Chinese businessman ? Good luck, Dude ! Now, starting today 08/08/08, the whole World is aware.
One could not expect something else from the nation who counts Sun Tzu among her children.
Looking for some info to get the most out of FriendFeed, I found this post by Digital Inspiration.
Although a pretty interesting article with lots of useful tips, an ad banner catch my eyes : " Muslima.com, the International Muslim Matrimonial Site." That was kind of a surprise to me, since I always thought Islam religion would forbid such of dating services.
Says the About page :
" Muslima.com is a specialist Muslim dating and matchmaking website that assists Muslim ladies to find their perfect match anywhere in the world. We offer friendly service combined with sophisticated search and messaging facilities that will make your search for true love fun and enjoyable. "
In the aircraft bringing me back home last friday, I was sitting next to a Finance guy. You know, the kind of big-head/stripped-suit/heavy-smoker/VIP trader.
To give you an idea, the guy was still on the phone whilst we were ready for take off, discussing about a client of his willing to leverage on the fiscal package that Sarkozy offered to the richest French citizens on Day One of his Presidency.
Why post on that poor little anecdote ? This : during the flight, I've watched Al Gore' speech at the recent TED conference, on my iPhone. When the guy saw me, he took his Blackberry out of a pocket, and started to... play some kid's brick game.
Definitely, we are not on the same planet ;-)
Dear FiberGeneration Readers : this quick note to confirm that I'm not dead yet, although skiing on icy snow is quite a journey sometimes.
After a tremendous week in the US, it's nice to take a break and think out of the box.
I tell you : the more I think out of the box, the more I think Google is the next big thing in the Telecoms space at large. I keep thinking on Metcalfe' s speech : Google already "owns" the top 2 layers of his 4-layers model (that is : Ethernet > Internet > Web > Google), and Google is already on the bottom one with its switches.
I bet Google will re-invent the Ethernet, hence the Internet as we know it as of today.
Now, time to go for diner. A wonderful tasty "raclette" ;-)
Dear FiberGeneration Readers :
To all of you who do celebrate Christmas, I wish you and your loved ones a happy holiday.
To everyone else *, enjoy the day and the night.
To all : enjoy the time with your loved ones.
Peace Out, and Carpe Diem.
* especially to You, Dear (Un)known Reader from Ankara, Turkey.
Now I can tell you. I'm happy - er, I'm delighted to announce you that I'll be working at the french city of Pau for the next year. Together with fellow entrepreneur Jean-Hughes Lauret (link in french), I will be heading the business development team of Pau Broadband Country (link in french). As my new boss Jean-Pierre Jambes (link in french) says, our mission is to attract researchers, entrepreneurs, investors and users to invent the lifestyle that comes with ultra-broadband.
When I started my career almost 25 years ago (6th of January, 1983) at the French Railways, the very first thing I've heard about Fiber Optics was : "FIber To The Home is tomorrow". Today, I'm pleased to say : "The Future is now".
post-scriptum : I'll come back later on the whole story, however I'd like to highlight the following point : I've got this absolutely once-in-a-lifetime type of job thanks to... blogging. More precisely, by reading and commenting Mr. Jean-Michel Billaut's blog. Quite an interesting experience to me, provided that I've got my other job (this training & consulting firm I'm creating for a french group) thru traditional networking. Lesson : there is no absolute rule in today's business. Maybe just this one : be yourself, and stand for it. And maybe this one too : One For All, All For One.
Over the last few days, I've been dealing with people who should learn the true meaning of "teamworking". For those guys, "sharing" and "collaboration" are obscur concepts promoted by some psychologists. Don't talk about the Web 2.0, whilst they even don't use email to communicate with their so-called team mates.
In the meantime, I also discussed with those team mates. I realized one thing : give people a smile, and they'll give you the World. It works both ways : when I play the Pierre Cardin salesman at this menswear store, I always welcome the visitors (not yet customers, see the difference ;-) with a large smile and big "hello, how are you today ?" kind of greeting. Outcome : 80% of those visitors become customers, most of them loyal. When I go shopping myself, the same large smile on my face will bring me a better service 80% of the time.
Conclusion : smile, and you'll make the World a better place.
On the 11th of September 2001, the sun was shinning over Böblingen, Germany.
We at the Product Marketing team of the Agilent' Optical Network Test Division were working on the forthcoming introduction of a breakthrough product.
This Check-Point meeting was as usual : hard work, brainstorming, productive.
We left the meeting room somewhere around 3:00PM, after six hours of discussion in a closed environment, to head to our respective work places, at the other side of the building.
We immediately felt something was wrong : the floor was quiet, too quiet. A weird, awful silence.
I don't remember how we got the message - was it a colleague stepping by us when we came back or a Post-It note on our telephone - but I do remember how the three of us, Robert, Dieter, and myself, looked at each other, puzzled. " A plane crashed in the WTC, NYC ".
Then, we jumped on our computers, to read the news. I launched my favorite radio station. We got the first images, then the videos, on the online news websites that were still accessible.
As almost everyone on the Planet, we couldn't believe what we saw. It had to be a farce. It had to be for a movie or a television show.
Suddenly, the reality struck us. All the energy we got from our brainstorming session went out, instantly, to be replaced by a sad sad feeling. Kind of sickness. We were entering a new World.
I remember what I said to my buddy Dieter the same moment : " the World will never be the same, never ever. "
No Telecoms, Fiber Optics, or Web 2.0 today. I've just started the grape harvest campaign here in Champagne. For the next week or so,I'm going to stay the feet on the ground, the hands on the nature of things, and the head in the real life.
However, as I love selling Pierre Cardin' suits 10 week-ends a year because it helps me keep learning on sales tips & tricks, I take this experience as a great opportunity to keep learning on teamwork and people management...
Wow ! FiberGeneration got 350+ unique visitors yesterday. The all-time record, for the time being. I wish Skype to be down more often ;-)
Seriously speaking, now that this blog has been exposed to more potential readers than ever, I've got to deliver a better content to keep some of them on board and from there let the snow ball effect do his job...
Ed. note :
this photo just because the very first time I saw this house, back in 1991, I had the strange feeling that she and me have something to do together. 16 years after later, it should be time do really do something about it ;-)
post-scriptum : I then was visiting the wonderful Bicycle Odyssey in Sausalito, California.
Officials confirm that all online data has been lost after the Internet crashed and was forced to restart.
Ed. note : I stopped downloading the latest iTunes playlist while watching '24' online with some BitTorrent stuff in the background and Twitter open ;-)
The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.
As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in plan that would become known as "Euro-English".
In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.
There will be growing publikenthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.
In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.
Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.
Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.
By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v".
During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vordskontaining "ou" and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensi bl riten styl.
Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.
Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas.
If zis mad you smil, pleas pas on to oza pepl