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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 July, 2011

Remembering Another Freud

Posted by on July 29, 2011 at 8:17 pm

British painter and portrait artist Lucian Michael Freud died last week in London at the age of 88.

Not as famous as his grandfather, Sigmund Freud, Lucian was well-known nonetheless in the world of art for his “stark and revealing paintings of friends and intimates,” according to the New York Times.

Lucian Freud was born in Berlin on December 8, 1922 to Sigmund Freud’s youngest son, Ernst Ludwig Freud, who was an Austrian architect. Lucian’s mother, Lucie née Brasch, was German. As both parents were Jewish, the Freuds moved their family to the St. John’s Wood district of London in 1933 to escape Nazi Germany.

I know St. John’s Wood well and have walked down many of its streets given my grandfather lived in that district for many years. I also know the work of Lucian Freud and have always respected it for its thought-provoking nature. His earlier Surrealism works gave way to bluntly-presented nude portraitures by the 1950s, which served to shock the senses. For example, his “Naked Man with Rat” (1977-1978) depicted a man lying on a couch holding a sleeping rat.

The central figures of Freud’s paintings many times appear tired, aged, and distressed – which has unnerved some observers over the years, particularly in the United States. Yet, no matter what one thinks of Freud’s work, there is an undisputed market for it. In May 2008, his 1995 portrait “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping” sold at auction by Christie’s in New York City for $33.6 million, which set a record for sale value of a painting by a living artist.

Conformity is the enemy to both the artist and the innovator. Corporations are generally expert at promoting conformity, but seldom proficient in providing for a culture that promotes creative thought and action. And they do so at their peril.

The next time you find yourself trying to conform, ask this question: “What would Freud do?” No, not the father of psychoanalysis, but his grandson.

The Smell of Success

Posted by on July 22, 2011 at 1:50 pm

“On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair, warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air.”

When the Eagles released the song Hotel California as a single in February 1977 (from the album by the same name), the band had already released four other albums, and had enjoyed numerous weeks at the top of the charts during the mid-1970’s. Yet, it was Hotel California that helped solidify the Eagles’ place in rock and roll history.

In 1977, Hotel California spent eight weeks as the number one album in America, and landed the Eagles two Grammys. Since its release, over 16 million copies of the album have been sold. Rolling Stone magazine ranks Hotel California at #37 on its 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

The song still resonates in my head today as freshly as it did in 1977, and why is that? It is timeless, memorable, and generally appealing to a wide and diverse audience.

Are there corporate equivalents to Hotel California? Maybe so. Kleenex, Gatorade, and Harley Davidson come to mind.

Good marketing, strong product performance, and dogged customer focus keep great products and brands at the top of the charts year after year.

One-hit wonders and flashy products come and go each year, but the truly deserving survive.

If your company gives considerable attention to these important fundamentals, the sweet smell of success will follow. Or is that the smell of colitas?

Keeping Your Cool

Posted by on July 14, 2011 at 11:43 pm

Things have gotten pretty hot in Washington, DC these days, and I’m not talking about the 100-degree heat index. The recent heated exchanges between the White House and the House Republicans have once again reminded us why the public approval ratings of our elected officials continue to hover around their all-time lows.

Yet there is something about the current debt ceiling debate that makes me think that there is much more at stake in this discussion than the usual Democratic and Republican skirmishes. The threshold question that confronts every American is whether our country should continue to ramp up historic and seemingly unsustainable debt, or should we take a meat axe to scores of federal programs that so many Americans have come to rely upon.

I’ll not use this blog to pontificate on my own personal political bias on this question, but I will say this: our country’s leaders need to find a way to talk to one another and work this out. I’m hoping for less hot rhetoric and finger-pointing and more substantive discussion and responsible leadership.

Whether it’s in a board room, a corporate conference room, a manager’s office, or in the Cabinet Room, heated and anger-toned debate serves no interests. I’ll put my money any day on the cool and level-headed executive or political leader than the hot-headed, barb-thrower.

Shareholders deserve this sort of cool-headed responsibility from corporate executives, and the American citizens deserve the same out of their elected or appointed government leaders.

To the Moon and Back

Posted by on July 7, 2011 at 8:46 pm

On May 25, 1961 President John F. Kennedy spoke before a joint session of Congress and laid down a challenge to the country and the U.S. space program: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

With these words, the United States marshaled an unprecedented level of innovative and scientific forces to accomplish this seemingly unreachable goal. In doing so, new generations of Americans became interested in science and space. Educators, students, and the American society at large embraced this ambitious goal with a level of enthusiasm not seen before or since this period in history.

And eight years later on July 21, 1969 astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to step foot on the Moon.

Undoubtedly, this country’s excitement and focus on science and space in the 1960s helped plant many of the seeds that led to America’s leadership in technology over the next several decades, including the microcomputer, software, and the Internet.

With this week’s 135th and last launch of the U.S. Space Shuttle, I find myself longing for a new, seemingly unreachable goal that can spark this country’s ingenuity and innovative spirit once more. Else, I fear that we will continue to slip further behind other countries like China and India, which are turning out four times as many math, engineering, and science graduates as the United States.

Let’s hope our country’s next Moon shot comes sooner rather than later.