Time to chase a new kind of dream

Last week the time had come for me to say goodbye to Red Hat. I joined the company on the third day of the year 2000. Red Hat was 350 people then. Today the company is over 3500 and is the largest and most recognized open source company in the world. I may have left the company, but in many ways I will always be a Red Hatter.

But today I’m chasing a new kind of dream. Today is my first day at New Kind.

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Sharing the story of Red Hat’s brand and culture

Last week I was asked to speak about brand and culture to a group of visiting MBA students from the Mason School of Business at the College of William & Mary. They came to Red Hat to learn more about the company, and I gave a talk on how brand and culture align at Red Hat.

I love telling this story.

Continue reading Sharing the story of Red Hat’s brand and culture

Comparing leadership cultures and creating change


Yesterday I attended a panel on cultural leadership at the Coach K Leadership Conference at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. The panel featured our own Senior VP of People and Brand at Red Hat, DeLisa Alexander, and Mark Reuss, President of General Motors North America.

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Jim Whitehurst: Don’t build a better mousetrap. Change the business model.

Companies that are creating massive value typically aren’t building a better mousetrap. They’re not improving on existing technologies or simply adding new features. Instead, they’re changing the business model. This was the message behind Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst’s keynote at today’s CED Venture 2010 Conference.

Continue reading Jim Whitehurst: Don’t build a better mousetrap. Change the business model.

Meeting our business challenges with creativity

A tide is turning for the state of business. We have come to realize the old ways of innovating and competing are no longer moving fast enough. We’re looking for new answers, and more importantly, new ways of finding them.

This past week I had the pleasure of attending the 25th annual Emerging Issues Forum in Raleigh. The forum brought together business and government leaders from across the state to discuss the challenges facing our economy as we race to compete in a changing world.

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Why do we love lists? Here are 5 reasons.

You see the headlines in Twitter all the time: “Top 5 WordPress themes for small businesses.” “10 ways to build your personal brand.” The lists go on. Especially right now when best-of and worst-of lists are everywhere. Not to be outdone, Time Magazine created a list of lists, the Top 10 of everything in 2009.

We can’t resist clicking on these headlines. Why? What makes lists such a compelling way for bloggers and magazines to deliver content? And if we know this is true, how can more organizations take advantage of the format to get their messages read and remembered?

Continue reading Why do we love lists? Here are 5 reasons.

Change By Design–How to put design thinking to work

Design is too powerful to be used by designers alone. This is the essential idea behind the theory of design thinking–applying the principles and techniques of design to help organizations innovate, solve problems, and create positive change.

Tim Brown, CEO and President of IDEO, should know. His new book, Change By Design, is about how Design Thinking works, and how design consultancy IDEO has put design thinking to work in organizations around the world. The book provides a useful, comprehensive overview on the power and value of design thinking.

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Reflections on the Coach K Leadership Conference

dukefuqua This week I had the pleasure of attending the Coach K Leadership Conference at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.

The theme of the conference was leading in times of uncertainty. I won’t try to summarize points from all of the presenters–mostly because that’s already been done, and done well: Just go to the Twitter stream to follow the discussion as it happened.

Instead I’ll share what I took away from the experience. Speaker James McCaffrey, EVP and Chief Strategy Officer of Turner Broadcasting, said leaders need to take the time to reflect–on the changes happening in the world and what it means to your business, and on your own experiences so you can learn from them. I agree.
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Where design thinking and open source community collaboration meet

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I’m currently reading the new book on design thinking from IDEO’s Tim Brown called Change By Design. (Full review coming soon.) The design thinking philosophy was first introduced to me, and to Red Hat throughout the company, by David Burney.

In comparing traits associated with design thinking collaboration and collaboration in the open source community, there are many parallels: open exchange, broad participation, rapid prototyping.

There’s also one really interesting contrast: The mindset you tend to see when generating and choosing ideas. But what I’ll suggest here is that when you apply the best elements of these two mindsets at just the right time in their respective processes, the results can be pretty amazing.
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Building brand through storytelling: Seven elements great stories have in common

Here’s a quick story:
A friend of mine and I had stopped at a gas station for a soda on a summer afternoon. I was probably about 10 years old. As we were drinking, I was mindlessly tearing the plastic label off my bottle and shredding it into pieces. He watched me do this for a few minutes, then said, “I hate tearing off the labels because it makes the soda taste bad.”

This was my first lesson in branding.

Few ways of communication are more universally human than storytelling. Stories give full-color context to black-and-white facts. They’re designed for sharing: Easy to tell, easy to remember. Simply start at the beginning and let the story unfold.

Continue reading Building brand through storytelling: Seven elements great stories have in common