Jennifer B. Davis
As if the crushing financial burden of Sarbanes-Oxley is not enough, now it is pretty clear to me that Generation Y employees won't probably work at public companies. The controls, approval levels, and other things that are nearly required to maintain good SEC status, smiling auditors, and shareholders (who might be assumed to be more worried about the companies in which they invest stealing from them, than they are those companies being successful in their markets), all lead to a corporate culture that is too old-school for this new batch of employees. No wonder this generation is highly entrepreneurial.

See repost of a portion of a blog post from the good folks at 37Signals and tell me whether or not the public corporate entity has a chance...

The traditional workplace is broken
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In the article entitled, "Want to attract and retain Gen Y? Better rethink everything", The Arizona Republic explains how employers can attract younger workers and talked about 37Signals.

President Jason Fried says today’s employers present the biggest roadblock. “Simply put, employees are treated like children. They are not allowed to think for themselves, and there are too many layers of approval, just too much insulation that prevents anyone from doing anything. The traditional workplace is broken, and until someone realizes that, there’s always going to be conflict.”

This suffocation by protocol is dead on and will never allow an employee to “go beyond” or achieve something extra for the company. This is a critical link that most organizations continually fail to acknowledge. They are too focused on ensuring employees do no wrong that they actually prevent them from achieving anything beyond status quo."
Jennifer B. Davis
As the economy tightens around us, I think we all feel a little poorer than we did even a few months ago. I read a few things in the past week that I have been thinking about.

1. Save Pennies, Spend Dollars
When times are tight (or perceived to be tight), it is still important to do the important things. Spending your child to private school or investing in a new business are those types of important things. To spend dollars on those things, you may have to scrimp on the things that don't matter as much. Save pennies elsewhere to make bold, purposeful investments where you need to. So, if celebrating a milestone birthday with a loved one is one of those important things, celebrate big (and bike to work the rest of the month)!

2. All Economics is Micro-Economics
I know the academics would disagree, but for most of us the only economics that matters is that which is very personal to us, close in physical proximity or time. Of course, the world economy is intertwined, but most of don't need millions of jobs, we only need one. We don't need a large bank, we just need someone to give us a return on the use of our money (which could be a micro-loan we make). The economy in our local community and the tax-base of public services we use is more important to us than the larger trends of housing starts across the country. Even our own retirement portfolio is only super critical if we are actively spending it (close proximity in the dimension of time).

3. Wealth is a Feeling, not a Bank Balance
I remember hearing a joke: "I have all the money I will ever need," the comic said. "As long as I don't spend another dime." How true. A feeling of wealth is still comes down to spending less than we earn, individually. Mr. Macawber, from Dickens' fame, wrote pointly about this type of micro-economics when he said that "to have an income of twenty pounds per annum, and spend twenty pounds and sixpence, is to be the most miserable of men; whereas, to have an income of only twenty pounds, and spend but nineteen pounds and sixpence is to be the happiest of mortals." Apparently, wealth is an emotion, like contentment or anxiety, that can be managed by perception and by personal action.

So, although we need to be concerned about the economy, about the bank bail-outs, the political races, and other things that good citizens need to stay up with, remember that the micro-economics matter the most. I wish you all wealth, in the truest emotional sense of the word.
Jennifer B. Davis
When we were growing up, my Mom thought it would be great to connect four stationary bikes (one for each of us kids) to the television and we'd all have to keep peddling for the TV to power up.

Now, there is a new gym in Portland called the Green Microgym which is the first health club in the world to generate a significant portion of its own electricity by putting the sweat power of its members to work. It would be quite a commute for me (doesn't make sense to drive to so far to go to a green gym, right?), but for the neighbors it sounds very cool.

Now, I am just waiting for the electricity-generating daycare or playground (why not tap into the energy of all those little kids?) or the wide-spread use of the electricity-generating nightclub dance floor. These might be a great solution not only for those who want to save energy, but for those in rural areas and in emerging regions where reliable power is elusive or too expensive.
Jennifer B. Davis
This is right up my alley. Designers who create concepts that no one ever buys can put them up for sale in an online marketplace at IncSpring. As a buyer you can search brands by industry, color, or name. You can see how others have rated the logo before you buy.

This might be a great way for a design student to get some of their work out there and get some clients using their designs.

I think it is interesting what business ideas themselves can come from these logos. For instance, the gift-wrapped roll of toilet paper and the company name "PrankExpress" bring to mind all sorts of funny gifts and things that could be sold and marketed.

I know this is opposite of how the "experts" say to do branding and identity design. They say you need to analyze your business, your corporate culture, your value proposition, and your customer perceptions before encoding them into a logo (and brand name). While I don't necessarily disagree, I wonder if a business (especially a start-up or small business) couldn't come pretty darn close by shopping for a logo that appeals to them and a few of their customers they might show it to. Research done. Logo designed. Now, they can go out and grow their business.
Jennifer B. Davis
Home delivery of groceries has come, gone, and come again. There is an outfit in Sarasota, FL which literally brings that idea a step further, by offering bicycle delivery of organic produce from local providers. Instead of bringing the grocery store to you, they bring the farmer's market. This seems like a fantastic idea to me, combining environmentally-conscious local eating with environmentally-conscious transportation. The PR and marketing benefits are obvious.

What else could be delivered locally by bicycle? Produce, for sure. Meat from a local butcher shop (in a refridgerated trailer?). Flower arrangements from a local shop or garden center. What about plants and nursery supplies? Milk from a dairy (another retro idea that is gaining popularity). IKEA furniture delivered to dorm rooms for assembly. I even wonder if the neighborhood school bus route couldn't be converted into a modified bike cart. After all, those kindergarten kids are pretty light.
Jennifer B. Davis
An innovative company in Brazil is offering a subscription service targeted to male gift-givers (surprise, surprise) giving them an easy way to send gifts of chocolate, flowers, etc for a low monthly fee. Check out the link above if your Portguese is pretty good or see the Springwise article. I am wondering what other things could be done on a subscription service.

Keeping up with holidy, birthday and anniversary correspondence is a natural. Jack Cards makes the chore (I mean priviledge) of sending personalized cards easier by sending you the cards in advanced, pre-stamped and addressed, so that you can zip off a personal note and everyone will wonder "how does she do it?". What if this was combined with a tiered service that sent along gift certificates in the cards or better yet, allowed you to categorize your address book into close family and friends, colleagues, and casual friends allowing you to tailor the gifts to each (keeping track of what you got them in previous years). Combine it with a 24x7 concierge service and you text a message or call them with immediate needs (flowers for a friend who just lost a grandparent, for instance) and it starts feeling like having a personal assistant.

What if you took it even further. What if there was anniversary plan that combined a time share with this gift subscription, to create custom luxury get-aways for a couples' wedding anniversary? You could tie this into the "themes" of each anniversary. You know the ones that say you give paper or clocks on the 1st anniversary and the 50th is gold? They could tier the offerings based on location and budget. I'd love the 3rd anniversary luxury trip to Italy to celebrate leather and glass which are traditional gifts for this anniversary or the trip to Japan on the 12th anniversary for silk and pearls.
Jennifer B. Davis
Sometimes you see products or ideas and immediately think "Brilliant! Why didn't I think of that?" Here are a few that I think are great.

In the land of the Dutch, where bicycles reign, a new company is combining bike racks with hand pumps for tires. Springwise pointed it out and you can learn more at I love when convenience and user experience are combined with common materials to deliver a new thing. Somehow this reminds me of a former colleague who installed a beer keg in his garage and punched through the adjoining wall, so that he could tap beer right from his recliner in front of the TV (okay, maybe that is exactly opposite of a bike rack).

If you have ever juggled silverware and your plate at a potluck, then you'll love snap-and-dine. All the pieces are joined together to create a sturdy surface for the buffet line. The only thing they need to add is a glass and a napkin. This one was from CoolHunting.

The final submission is not a product, but rather a crowd-sourced service of sorts. When we were choosing names for our children I found a very useful site where strangers had gone to the trouble to rate and comment on names, ranking them according to perceived attractiveness, intelligence, athleticism, and other criteria that might come back to haunt the kids later. I found it very insightful and I really valued getting the feedback early before we made a mistake. Now, you can get strangers to provide your image consulting in much the same way. Your very own focus group. Sadly, the site and service are only in German, but what an opportunity for someone in the States to do something similar (or to utilize their high school German). Check it out at