Token Sales Have Gotten Real Faster than I Thought

Token sales are happening every week now, it seems. I knew they were going to be important, just not this fast. I think we’re still in the first wave where there’s a mix of true believers, legitimate programs and a bit of scamminess.

When TechCrunch runs an article explaining how to do your ICO, you know there’s edging closer to the middle of the early adopters.


Further, token sales are not a funding vehicle. While many companies treat them as such — and crow over multi-million-dollar raises that explode in minutes — what they are really doing is floating a cryptocurrency on the open market. With a lot of planning and a lot of luck, these cryptocurrencies can rise in value and, if the token sale is structured correctly, this gives companies a little bit more funding than they had before they started. Without planning, you get a mess.

Source: How to run a token sale | TechCrunch

The Best Nerds are Curious

Love this interview with the guy who created Node.js. Key point: he really followed his curiousity, and worked his ass off. He didn’t graduate from a top CS program, but he got going with the most simple stuff. Combine a big brain, curiosity, the desire to leave it better than you found it, and a super work ethic. You end up with great tech.

I grew up in San Diego, my mom had got an Apple 2C when I was six years old, so I guess I’ve had kind of early access to computers. I’m 36, by the way. So, I kind of came of age just as the internet was coming out. I went to community college in San Diego and then went to UCSD afterward, where I studied math. Then, I went to grad school for Math, in the University of Rochester. Yeah. There, I studied algebraic topology, which was kind of a very abstract subject, that I found very beautiful for a couple of years, but later I got bored of it because it was not so applicable to real life, it seemed. After grad school, well… so, that was a PhD program, and once I realized that I was not wanting to be a mathematician for the rest of my life, I dropped out of that program, and bought a one-way ticket to South America and went there for a year, where I was kind of in starving student mode, and found a job doing some web sites with this guy, Eric. And that’s kind of how my programming career started. It was working on the Ruby on Rails website for a snowboard company.

Source: Episode 8: Interview with Ryan Dahl, Creator of Node.js | Mapping The Journey | Pramod Shashidhara | Podcast

Barclays, HSBC Join Settlement Coin as Bank Blockchain Test Enters New Phase – CoinDesk

This kind of stuff is both super exciting and also mind-melting at the same time. I can see the possibilities, but the complexity of the issues presented here – by the tech, by the industry, by the regulations, by the market acceptance – are astounding. But, what’s really clear to me is that this is another example of how blockchain – distributed authority, decentralized trust, transparent, unhackable – is going to be an incredible leveler.

In that transfer test, the group will explore using a collateralized token, which Jaffrey said could simplify the buying and selling of assets via a complicated network of middlemen down to a single, fiat-based transaction conducted on a blockchain.In short, the collateralized token will be given directly to the owner of the asset, instead of going through the traditional network of clearinghouses.

Source: Barclays, HSBC Join Settlement Coin as Bank Blockchain Test Enters New Phase – CoinDesk

Sticky Note Fatigue and the Fog of Knowledge 

Andy Budd has an interesting take on the over-use (or, perhaps the poor-use) of design exercises and what  he refers to as “sticky note fatigue”. He suggests that business leaders sometimes see the exercises as too far afield of the real work of design.

I’m a believer in the power of exercises and methods used as part of design and strategy workshops. I’ve seen over and over again how the right exercise  idea unlock deep insights and a shared understanding of strategic options. But, when the exercises aren’t led well or the participants aren’t clear about why they’re doing what they’re doing, those exercises feel a lot like all ideas and no action. So, i tend to agree with this point:

Another challenge is confusing the map for the territory, or in this case the activity for the insights. Not all sticky note exercises are created equal. It’s not the sticky notes themselves to blame, but the people who use them badly.

The goal isn’t merely to “do some ‘design thinking'”. The goal is to use these exercises to a) get to some real insights and ideas and b) get closer to alignment on the right problems to solve and the right kinds of solutions to prioritize. It’s the job of the facilitators to create the right focus and the right guidance for the participants.

I like Budd’s suggestion to, essentially, just get on with the design work and put some screens or sketches together. “You can often learn more from a bad first prototype than you can from any number of sticky note exercises.”

In my experience, we’ve generally put the collaborative design work (i.e. the sticky note work) up front. Perhaps we should be blending design work and collaborative design more frequently?

Artefact’s Tools to Drive Behavior Change Strategy 

All good design has a goal. We’re probably most familiar with communication goals (e.g. “Become aware of our brand”, understand a specific thing about our product, click now, etc.). But, when your design work is focused on getting people to change their own behavior in meaningful and challenging ways, it’s a little trickier because of the inherent complexity of getting anyone to get out of their normal lane. It’s a different type of communication that requires informing, challenging, and, well, manipulating. Your design or interface will work on multiple levels beyond perception, including emotional, psychological, rational, etc.

Artefact is one of the best design companies in the world and they’ve been sharing their thinking and methods. Their cards for behavioral change is a good addition to any product or design strategist’s toolbox.

This set of 23 cards was crafted to help designers, researchers, and anyone facing a behavior change challenge, think through strategies to nudge people toward positive behavioral outcomes.  They work particularly well when you have in mind a specific behavior that you want to change (e.g., “We want to get more people to ride the bus,” or, “We want people to stop smoking”).

Source: Behavior Change Strategy Cards – Artefact

 Scott Galloway on Recode Decode – Recode

I’ve got a bit of love/envy thing going with Scott Galloway, but i LOVE this interview with Kara Swisher on Decode/Recode. One of the dozens of provocative points he makes here is that brands are becoming less relevant in an era of endless discovery. You can feel confident choosing a new product, because its easier than ever to find out whether the thing is good or not.

Brand has effectively served as shorthand for getting you from the unknown to the known faster than you could on your own, because you couldn’t do the diligence.

There’s a ton in this interview, but i love the concept of “tools of diligence” that he just touches on lightly. That is, Google, Amazon reviews, Instagram, Twitter and the other things you use to check out things to buy and do.

Obvious point: As a marketer, you must consider the full user experience from finding out about your thing – perhaps on instagram – through to the reviews on Amazon and Twitter, etc.


Source: Full transcript: NYU business school professor and L2 founder Scott Galloway on Recode Decode – Recode

This Influencer Marketing Shop Created Fake Accounts to Prove That the Industry Is Full of Ad Fraud – Adweek

I’ve always been annoyed by the “influencer” marketing practices. It’s coming up on 10 years of annoying, spammy stuff that has never seemed real or valuable. So, it’s surprising (to me anyway) that this writer seems surprised just how easy it is to be sketchy:

This represented the latest form of ad fraud afflicting advertisers and brands today seeking to work with social media influencers. To bring the issue to light, we created two fake Instagram influencer accounts. The goal of our experiment was to show how easy it is to create a fake influencer account, and to prove that it’s possible for fake accounts to secure paid brand deals through influencer marketing platforms.

Source: This Influencer Marketing Shop Created Fake Accounts to Prove That the Industry Is Full of Ad Fraud – Adweek

Innovation Framework From Doblin

It seems like there are just as many ways to talk and think about innovation as there are reasons to innovate. To get the conversations started with clients, i’ve always liked to use a framework to jumpstart the thinking.

I’ve mostly relied on simple 2×2’s or some variant of the incremental/disruptive comparison. Mainly because they’re simple to understand and most leaders can immediately apply the framework to their situation.

But, after reading a bunch of thinking from Doblin Group, i’ve come to really like their framework. It takes some work to fully understand all the dimensions, but that depth makes it versatile and forces the conversation beyond the obvious topics. Especially for folks like me who are deep in “digital”, a framework like this gets the conversation away from the basic stuff – technology, digital advertising, content – and should force a conversation about more potentially transformative options: business models, partnerships, etc.


The Checkered Flag Turns to Green: My Next Thing

I’ve been really fortunate to spend the last 3.5 years at GoKart Labs, a venture incubator and digital innovation shop in Minneapolis. I came to GoKart for a couple reasons: to be part of a team that was doing really amazing digital strategy & development work for leading companies, to learn how to run a small professional services business and to learn about entrepreneurship from the inside. I was attracted to the unique positioning GoKart has in the market, the team and leadership, and, since GoKart is an incubator, the chance to (eventually) springboard from GoKart to something of my own.

“Eventually” is now. I’m leaving GoKart this week to work a new venture i’ve been researching since earlier this spring. It hasn’t been a quick or easy decision, but it’s been revealing. Over the course of a lot of thought and discussion with the partners and the leadership team, it’s clear my passion is going to be around getting my own thing off the ground.

GoKart is in a strong position so the timing is right. We’ve refined our strategies over the last 6 months and sharpened our business development focus. We’ve re-aligned the leadership team to get ourselves set for the next 3-5 years of growth and we’ve focused on the skills and leadership behaviors we’re going to need. As a result, we’re looking to strengthen our bench via a search for our next UX Director and our first CFO.

I’m really proud to be a small part of  what the GoKart team has accomplished in the last 3 years. The business has doubled in size. We’ve opened an office in DC to serve clients and expand our talent pool. We’ve added a bunch of great clients whose names you’d recognize. We’ve been on the Inc 5000 list of the nation’s fastest growing companies and we’ve been on Fast 50 in MN, joining some of the best startups in the state. We’ve done that while being named a Best Place to Work multiple times. We’ve launched The Big Know, a truly innovative content marketing company that is changing the way brands connect with their communities. We’ve committed to investing in and supporting startups, and we’re making good progress there. We’ve done some of the most important strategy and development work I’ve ever been a part of, where we’ve helped organizations fundamentally change their trajectory. We’ve brought some amazing talent into the organization and we’ve helped a couple really talented employees get their businesses off the ground.

I love the solutions we’ve created and the innovation we’ve helped spark. But, there’s a persistent digital talent & skills gap that i’ve seen at just about every company we’ve worked with.  It’s not that there’s not strong talent, it’s just that there’s not enough of it. I want to help address that going forward. More on that later.

While i’m getting my biz started up, i’m taking on a couple digital projects and a few that  aren’t in my wheelhouse (e.g. podcasts, print) to flex some different muscles and learn about some new stuff. At the same time, I’ve been given so much, i hope i can give back somehow to the community. I hope to help out a couple non-profits with their digital opportunities. And, i’m going to finally learn to love coffee while i meet all the smart people i’ve been watching from afar via social media.  And, i’m still a true believer in the power of a good blog, so I’d love to get back to writing more.

I’m coming around to my last lap at GoKart and i can see a checkered flag waving for me. I feel like i won the race by getting some time with the team at GoKart and our great clients. I’m super excited about what the future holds for GoKart and i know the leadership team will guide the organization to the next level. But, i’m also really excited to see the green flag coming out for my next thing.

Get in touch if you’d like to talk (first last at g or connect on Twitter (@jcuene) or Linkedin. I’ll buy the first round!