Memo to self: The Charles River curves

Got up this morning about 7am and I didn’t have to be at Lotus until 10, so I had time to exercise. I had a choice: walk 40 steps down the hall to the hotel exercise room and use a treadmill, or go outside, where it was 65 degrees and I could run alongside the Charles River. This was not a difficult choice.

So I left the hotel and turned right on Memorial Drive, heading towards Massachusetts Avenue. I don’t run very fast (nor often enough), but it still took me only a few minutes to get there and I didn’t feel like turning around, so I took the bridge over to Boston, where I took a left, planning to go to the next bridge and come back to Cambridge.

I forgot that the Charles River bends, and the two bridges are not parallel — the distance between them on the Boston side is about double the distance on the Cambridge side. It’d been a while since I’d run outside, and I hadn’t bothered to bring a water bottle along with me, so by the time I got to the bridge, I was hot, tired, and thirsty. I was very happy to get back to Cambridge, where I was only a three-minute walk from my hotel.

I gotta get outside more!

The Need for Speed

I’ve temporarily removed my favorites (“Weblogs to Watch”) and the ad to a random weblog in the interest of speeding up this page. One or the other of them was the culprit in the very slow loading times I mentioned last night, and I didn’t have time to figure out which one it was. Look for a static version of
“Weblogs to Watch” when I get home.

Wines of the Day

Today’s wines are courtesy of American Airlines, who were able to
accomodate my last-minute desire to not only go home early (albeit to
San Francisco rather than San Jose) but also be upgraded to Business
Class en route (there go another 6 stickers!).

Silverado Vineyards Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 1998

Silverado Vineyards is the Walt Disney family’s winegrowing estate.
Need I say more? Well, I guess I should — the wine was OK, but had
some definite woody undertones (I wonder if I was given the
Chardonnay by accident?). I wouldn’t go out of the way to drink it
again, and I switched wines for the main course.

Ch&226;teau Ste.-Michelle Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon

Now, this was more like it! Nicely full-bodied and a good
accompaniment to the steak (actually, far more appealing than the
steak — I should’ve ordered the chicken Caesar salad without the
dressing, but then I probably would have stuck with the Silverado).

Graham’s Six Grapes Port NV

I’ve almost never drunk port on the ground — but I enjoy it when
flying. This port is very full, almost chewy, with a lingering
aftertaste. It would have been better with a fruit and cheese plate,
but that wasn’t offered on the flight today.

Book of the Day

I’ve been carrying around Geoffrey Moore’s Living on the Fault
for a month or so, ever since our team planning session. I
decided it was time to get the weight out of my briefcase, so I started
reading it soon after takeoff. It’s a good thing that I’m on a six-hour
flight, because I didn’t want to stop before reaching the end — and it
wasn’t just because I’m a compulsive reader (I’ve got
Cryptonomicon with me, and I know that’ll keep me busy for a
long, long time!).

Moore’s thesis is that, in an era of rapid technological innovations and
accompanying market changes, the only valid measure of a company’s
success is its market value — not earnings or revenue. Further, he
claims (and I agree) that market value is based on estimates
of the company’s
ability to generate future earnings, not past performance (though, as we
all know, failing to deliver on projections can punish a company
severely [I write this before hearing IBM’s second quarter earnings or
the market’s reaction to them]) and that those estimatess are largely
driven by two factors: the company’s competitive advantage (the GAP)
and the length of time that that advantage can hold up (the CAP). The
bigger the competitive advantage, the more money the company can make in
a particular time period; the more tenacious that advantage, the longer
the period the market will project those earnings — and market value is
the present value of the sum of the projected earnings for as long as
market is willing to believe plausible. So if you have a high advantage
and a long time period when the market believes you can hold that
advantage, you’ll be rewarded with a huge market value
(witness Cisco), while if you’re in a commodity market or one with a
short fuse, your market value will be significantly less (witness Fresh
And of course, markets are not static — discontinuous changes pose
threats to successful companies (not the least of which is denial).

The book expands on that thesis and describes the strategies that
companies can use in various phases of the market cycle (drawing on his
earlier work, such as Crossing the Chasm). To me, the most
interesting observation was that the hardest thing for a company to do
is to re-cross the chasm — that is, to conquer a new (or
changed) market when it’s still raking in money from old markets. This,
of course, is another statement of the Innovator’s Dilemma — and it’s
one I’ve seen many times at IBM. I also found his notes on corporate
cultures (in the final chapter) to be on target, as was the discussion
of the need to separate core from context and concentrate on core
activities. Recommended.

Yesterday’s Wine of the Day

After the Advisory Board meeting last night, several of us had dinner at The Blue Room in Cambridge, which I can cheerfully recommend (especially if you’re not paying the bill yourself). I had “Number 1 Tuna”, and to go with it, I had a glass of
1998 Taltarni Sauvignon Blanc (Australia). It was very fruity, and I enjoyed it greatly; I’m going to keep my eyes open for it in local stores.

Missing connections with Extreme Blue

I left Boston early because there was a last-minute change in the schedule for the Extreme Blue interns, and many of them were visiting IBM Research in Hawthorne, NY. I probably won’t get back there before the program is over for the summer; oh, well. At least I’m already home — the flight I was supposed to have taken is running late, so I would have been totally wiped by the time I got back to my house.

By the way, there was a great story about Extreme Blue (and other internship programs) in USA Today for 19 July. I wish there’d been programs like that when I was in college!