New Lantern

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Welcome to the New Lantern blog. Our goal is to shine light on leading innovators and creative artists, and how your business can learn and profit from them. Companies large, medium, and small can benefit from employees who think more creatively. New Lantern may be just the source of inspiration your company needs to spark more innovative products, services, and processes.


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Monthly Archive for February, 2011

The Other 49

Posted by on February 28, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Newsflash: Apple Inc. is at the top of Fast Company’s list of “The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies” for 2011.

While you recover from the shock of hearing this news, I would like to talk about the other 49 companies which made this year’s list. There are some old names, like Intel and IBM; newer names like Netflix and Facebook; and brand new names like Zynga and Groupon.

What is Zynga you might be asking? Well, that’s their CEO Mark Pincus on the magazine’s cover shown above. Zynga is a San Francisco-based social network game company that Pincus started all the way back in 2007. Today they have over 1,500 employees and attract 300 million people a month to play its online titles on social network sites like Facebook. These same funsters paid Zynga an estimated $500 million on virtual goods in 2010. Fun and games can be profitable.

Groupon takes a good old-fashioned retail coupon concept and marries it with the power of the web. Think of a group coupon, hence “Groupon.” Groupon was launched in November 2008 in Chicago by Andrew Mason, who graduated in 2003 from Northwestern with a degree in music. The idea is to offer one group coupon a day in a given urban area like Chicago. It’s already expanded to 250 markets around the world. Last year, Google offered to buy Groupon for a cool $6 billion. And Groupon said “no.” Mason must feel pretty bullish about his company’s future.

Then there are plenty of non-technology companies that made Fast Company’s list of 50, including Nissan, Burberry, Pepsico and Univision — each finding a way to reinvent itself and/or beat the competition by tapping into its creative side.

In short, innovation continues to thrive all around us. It can thrive at your company as well, whether you are a 5-person shop that has just hatched up a new way to do an old thing; or, you’re an old company that has recently found its innovation mojo.

Let New Lantern help your company get on next year’s list of the 50 most innovative.

The New Envelope, Please

Posted by on February 22, 2011 at 8:09 pm

According to the Los Angeles Times, the upcoming 83rd Academy Awards show on February 27 will include a major facelift for its world famous envelope, which contains the words: “And the Oscar goes to…”

LA-based designer, Marc Friedland, was tasked with the envelope’s upgrade. The redesign features an “Art Deco-influenced satin gold frame with an ecru inset panel” featuring a gold-leaf-embossed Oscar statuette. Friedland described the previous design as something that surprisingly resembled a “non-descript, office supply store bought” envelope.

Details matter, and so does image and design. Your company needs to pay close attention to how others see you, particularly the important aspects of your business that potentially distinguish it from the pack.

Look outside your organization to seek a fresh pair of eyes to advise on what may be your non-descript blind spot. Doing so could lead to your company’s own envelope and the just rewards that go with it.

Standing Out in the Crowd

Posted by on February 15, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Several months ago I was in San Francisco and making my way by foot to an appointment in the Financial District. I suddenly found myself at the base of the city’s iconic Transamerica Pyramid building on Montgomery Street.

For several minutes I stood there in awe gazing upward at this architectural wonder to take in its dramatic pyramid shape and its “wings” silhouetted against an intense blue sky.

In a city that boasts the Golden Gate Bridge and the Coit Tower, San Francisco has no shortage of iconic landmarks. Yet, among office buildings throughout the world, you would be hard-pressed to find one as uniquely shaped and enduring as the Transamerica building.

Designed by architect William Pereira, the building’s nonconformist shape had its detractors during its planning and construction, which started in 1969. The Transamerica building was completed in 1972 and soon became a proud and highly recognized symbol for San Franciscans.

History books are full of similar reactions to bold and unconventional designs that initially startled the senses, but over time became beloved for their distinction. Look no further than Gustave Eiffel, the French engineer who designed the famed tower in Paris that bears his name.

From childhood we are taught not to stand out in the crowd. Go along. Fit in. Conform. As adults, this conformist behavior is roundly encouraged in the workplace.

This type of imitative culture serves to stifle the very type of creativity and innovation that your company needs to thrive and endure.

Applaud the individuality of your employees and seek to encourage, not suppress, the dramatic.

Your company has the potential to leave its mark on the business landscape, but only if you give your employees the opportunity to stand out in the crowd.

No One To Blame

Posted by on February 7, 2011 at 9:27 pm

When things go wrong, it’s only human to want to point the finger and to blame someone or something else. Companies play the blame game too, and quite well I might add.

You don’t meet your quarterly targets, blame this event or that circumstance.

You fail to close a deal with a huge potential customer, blame this team or that team – or blame your competitor who undercut you.

Your new product advertisement falls flat. Blame your outside ad firm.

Finding a scapegoat is easy. Dealing with your own weaknesses and mistakes, and learning from them is much harder. That’s why both companies and people generally take the former route.

This past weekend, I had a close and personal encounter with blame.

I was awakened this past Friday at 5am by my three indoor cats growling at the front door at a cat on the outside of the door. I got up and peered out the window, and saw what I thought was our neighbor’s black cat. It was still dark outside and I was still in the fog of sleep.

My concern was that the cat had escaped its owner’s house and was now stranded outside in 20-degree weather. I took out some food, which the cat devoured. Just before the cat finished the food, I thought (or I didn’t think) that I would reach down and grab the cat, take it inside for a few hours, and then call the neighbor to come pick it up. This cat thought differently.

When I reached down to pick up the cat, in an instant, it turned and took a huge bite out of my hand, while pushing its back feet against my other hand. I ripped my hands away, and stood there with both hands bleeding while feeling pretty stupid for trying to pick up this cat. I knew now that it was not my neighbor’s cat.

My dumbness resulted in an emergency room visit in response to my bitten hand doubling in size and turning red with apparent infection. The hospital kept me two days to pump strong antibiotics into my body via IV to aggressively attack the toxins that were in my hand. An infectious disease doctor saw me and told me that this type of deep cat bite could do permanent damage to the use of my hand.

I kept telling myself, which was also echoed by my husband, that I had no one to blame but myself.

The hospital was so crowded they put me on the oncology floor with the cancer patients. On the first night, I shared a room with a feisty 82-year old woman who had come to the hospital due to bad reactions to the cancer drugs.

On the second day, they brought in an Egyptian woman in her mid-30s, along with her husband, her mother, her young daughter and several friends and family. She was so ill, so weak, so emaciated, and clearly suffering from the rages of her cancer and the treatments.

My wounds suddenly felt insignificant. Here I was blaming myself for my predicament, and learning from it — and this woman, wife, mother and daughter had no one to blame.