Guy Kawasaki and a ‘Reality Check’ on stuff businesses are made of

I had signed up for a copy of ‘Reality Check- The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition’ and, the book arrived nicely packed and all. Thanks to the team who took the trouble to ship it. Shipping charges to India are fairly high and, so thanks once again.

The book is “Kawasaki’s all-in-one guide for starting and operating great organizations – ones that stand the test of time and ignore any passing fads in business theory“. That is a fairly tall order, but the book does not disappoint. Direct, often blunt and cutting out the flab in sentences, Guy gets to the bottom of the story. For those who follow his blogs or, have read his earlier books, this would provide some parts of deja vu. And yet, there are new stuff in the book. It is entertaining and there are places where you just have to laugh out loud at the sheer irreverence of it all.

Good stuff around pitching (heh! that was a no-brainer), business plans (but Guy has on and off written about it), innovation, customer service and unsurprisingly schmoozing. Short crisp sentences bristling with ideas that challenge the reader to pause-think-rewind-restart and a list of clear don’ts. This is an engaging work from someone who is the ‘real deal’. Some of the content comes across as commonsense, but then, commonsense is the most uncommon commodity right now in the great game of startups.

Books in the same genre are generally cut-n-dry, full of good natured advice and suffer from a complete lack of delivering the punch line in a form that one can remember. This one doesn’t do that. And, the punchlines would be repeated over various meetings and gossip sessions. It is a thick book but it holds sway over you. In fact, it is highly recommended to have a copy handy.

From the Wikipedia entry:

In its modern usage, hubris denotes overconfident pride and arrogance; it is often associated with a lack of humility, not always with the lack of knowledge. An accusation of hubris often implies that suffering or punishment will follow, similar to the occasional pairing of hubris and nemesis in the Greek world. The proverb “pride goes before a fall” is thought to sum up the modern definition of hubris.

2009 would be the Year of …

Og Maciel writes about the possibility of 2009 being the Year of Translations. With the coming-out of awesome tools like Transifex, Damned Lies, Vertimus etc, it sure feels good to be even marginally involved in the process of translations.

Infrastructural pieces coming together ensure that a translation workflow that appeals to all, is easy for the end-user can be put in place with much ease. And, it would also mean a disruptive playing field for startups like Indifex. Making wide open spaces for innovation in translation workflow and infrastructure is an area that is bound to be welcomed by the folks who spend countless hours making applications, desktops and operating systems available in their local languages/locales. They don’t get appreciated often. They get recognized during release times in release notes and the like, but they do keep the engines running and the lights on. This is going to be their year.

I would venture so far as to state that in a trend of “2009 would be the Year of <insert_your_favorite_prediction>” it would be a Year of Content. Free and Open content un-encumbered by restrictive rights and legalese that would be re-distributable, would be informative, would be educational and would be able to bring about a change. Over a period of the last 24 months, methods and tools that enable content creation on Linux desktops have simplified. Especially when it comes to Indian languages. So, there are fonts available (some of them quite elegant), there are keyboard layouts, on-screen keyboards (like Indic OnScreen Keyboard or iok and even Quillpad), input methods, word-lists and like bits that form the user-experience completion when using a Linux desktop to compose content. In sort, the traditional problems in the fields of input-display-printing have been substantially addressed to bring the end-user experience at a level of where it should be easy to just plug-and-create.

There is a wealth of content in Indian languages, starting right from folk-tales that are part of the oral tradition to commercially generated content which needs to start moving into the UTF-8 encoding space. Projects like the OLPC can benefit from the availability of such forms. Work on Indic OCR remains to move forward at a much aggressive pace than what is currently, but there are signs of good things coming out of it. Digitizing data would also enable a lot of content to be archived and made available for consumption.

This is the year that should see a large part of such things happening. The marriage of content creators with the infrastructure developers is something that needs to happen as well. And, this needs to include folks from fields of comparative literature, media studies and the like. Anyone who really does generate content, should be met with and talked to regarding the need to exert themselves to become part of the process. Content already takes in a large chunk of investment outlay for the mobile players and with the availability of easy means of generating content, it would not be far to start thinking about a need to consolidate, find patterns, predict trends.

The convergence of the computing and application prowess of mobile devices, content creation workflows and upswing in the production of Indic language content for the webspace promises to make 2009 an interesting year of innovations.

Season’s Greetings to all.