I bought this book on 1 January when news first came out of the University of Oklahoma “bipartisan” gathering, but I did not have a chance to read it until this week. I went to Oklahoma, only to see this good man embarrassed by a truly rotten press conference that invited mockery. My three page trip report is at Earth Intelligence Network.
I'm going to summarize what I learned from this book,and then conclude with an observation on how Bloomberg could go to the next level while simultaneously cleaning up our government and educating the 5 billion poor free, one cell call at a time.
There is absolutely nothing in this book that is conceited or self-serving. This is straight talk from a hard worker, an Eagle Scout at a very young age, an ethical businessman, an inspired information entrepreneur. This is an honest worthy book I wish I had noticed sooner.
The author lived in a one-room studio apartment for his first 10 years, working 12 hours a day as a matter of routine, not counting his early morning jogging, where he says he gets his most creative thoughts.
It certainly helped that he had a $10M termination payment from his first job, but this book positively lights up around the combination of open workspace, open mind, how to create a company on the fly, fully integrating customer views, ignorning banks and other pyramidal consultants. The author discovered the “power of us” a quarter century before Business Week did its cover story on this topuc, 21 June 2005.
What I was not expecting, and what made the book riveting for me, is the complete well-paced coverage of how the author realized he could monetize financial data, then information about the people behind the data, and then information on the politics behind the people.
A few of my fly-leaf notes:
+ Build from scratch, don't buy over-priced companies or capabilities.
+ Trust me, or go out the door.
+ Do'ers with fires in their belly make for a great team
+ Pioneered compact low-cost workstations with English buttons
+ Excelled at rapid prototyping where good intention was better than any business plan
+ Really superb overview of how numbers can lie, how dangerous an automated numbers game can become
+ Outsiders do what's asked; insiders do what's needed.
+ Superb vision for the future of the hand-held cell phone as the single device, he knew this long before Eric Schmidt came along to help Google.
+ Corrects my long-standing mis=hearing of Marhsall McCluhan's book title, The Medium is the Massage (not Message, that was a separate quote)
+ Really excellent stories aabout how hard Bloomberg had to fight to be accredited both in Washington DC and in Tokyo as a legitimate news organization
+ “Ignorance and arrogance are a deadly combination.” I wish he had realized Oklahoma would be a dead end–bi-partisan is code for keeping the two-party spoils system. Transpartisan is where its at, visit Reuniting America, 110 million strong and growing. See the definitive book on the death of the two parties, Running On Empty: How The Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It.
+ I agree with his view that computers should not be allowed in the classroom throughout elementary school.
+ Throughout the book, it is clear the author knows what I learned from Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, both personally and through his book, Miles to Go: A Personal History of Social Policy, Change is Hard. Specificially, big change takes 25 years (I am in year 18 of reforming secret intelligence and creating public intelligence, he is now in year 1 of reforming democracy and saving the Republic as well as moral capitalism).
+ The chapter on Management 101 is decent, sensible, and worthy of study.
+ I've spent hard time trying to do digital innovation, and the details in this book just blew me away as I followed the innovations the author led back in the 1980's when CIA tasked me with creating a “smart desktop” for clandestine operations. Had I known then about this man, I would have gone to his doorv and offered to help him put CIA out of business. There is still time.
I put the book down with both a feeling of pain–the Oklahoma debaacle should never have happened–and hope. This author embodies three big ideas: moral informed capitalism, honest informed self-governance, and educational reform.
I have three ideas I offer to anyone who can reach the author, I do not believe the book I created for him (Democracy 2008, see it at Earth Intelligence Network) was delivered to him by his staff, one reason he got humiliated in Oklahoma.
Idea #1: Fund a global “True Cost” project within the Natural Capital Institute's rapidly growing World Index of Social and Environmental Responsibility (WISER). Get Paul Hawkins in to energize everyone, and become the Moody's for true cost information (e.g. designer T-shirts with 4000 gallons of water, water bottles whose plastic required more water to make than is contained in the bottle, etc). This will change markets within 2-3 years, especially since ScanBack would allow Bloomberg to deliver this information to end-users via their cell phone at the point of sale.
Idea #2: Forget about running for President. It's a lousy job. BE the virtual president, forming a Transpartisan Sunshine Cabinet (Senators Nunn and Graham should be respectively Defense and Intelligence), and leveraging True Majority and Reuniting America to lead a national conversation firmly grounded in a balanced budget, on how to orchestrate $1 trillion a year in planning giving to eradicate the ten high level threats by harmonizing the twelve policies, while also creating the EarthGame to help the eight demographic challengers avoid our mistakes.
Idea #3: Examine Telelanguage.com and figure out how to register and put online 100 million volunteers who can use Skype, Telelanaguage, and their Internet connection to teach the 5 billion poor in any one of 183 languages, one cell phone call at a time.
The above will sound self-promoting, it is not. I have labored with 23 other co-founders to do Mike Bloomberg's staff work for the next decade, and if someone can get him to carefully consider these ideas, I give them to him freely. I don't need a job, but I do need a planet my three boys can grow up in, and I believe that if Mike Bloomberg stops trying to leverage political has-beens (with a few exceptions), and instead creates an architecture that can deliver public intelligence in the public interest, he will achieve his grand vision, faster, better, cheaper.
Thank you, those whom Dick Cheney has inspired into reading my non-fiction reviews. I never, ever, expected to be of service to the Nation in quite this way. If my reviews help us restore the Republic, of, by, and for the people, working with moral capitalists and leaders like this author and John Bogle (The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism then the author's unbridaled optemism could be warranted.
The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All
Society's Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People
A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
All Rise: Somebodies, Nobodies, and the Politics of Dignity (BK Currents)
One from Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization
THE SMART NATION ACT: Public Intelligence in the Public Interest