Gadgets That Have Changed Our Lives

Greetings. Time magazine has just come out with its list of “The 50 Most Influential Gadgets of All Time” and it is definitely a blast from the past (and present). It is also a really fun way to think about innovations that have shaped our lives and changed the way that we connect, explore, listen, picture, learn, play, make, share, and entertain ourselves.

As you go through the article and the gadgets and their brief histories, try to think about why each of these inventions generated so much interest and what lessons they offer in how you and your colleagues can create even greater interest and value in the products, services, and solutions you offer. Then imagine how some of the most recent gadgets, especially those that deal with connecting and educating people, might be used to enhance your work and build an even stronger bond with your customers, team members, and stakeholders.


But most importantly, have fun taking a stroll through this brief history of every day technology.

And in case you are pressed for time, here are the Top Ten…

10. The Hitachi “Magic Wand” (1968)

Let’s just say that this is the only item on Time’s list that is not always intended for children of all ages.

9. The Apple iPod (2001)

The device that changed the way a new generation consumed music and made Apple and the iTunes Store the world’s biggest music retailer.

8. The Kodak Brownie Camera (1900)

Talk about a revolution, Kodak put photography within everyone’s grasp 116 years ago when it made it possible for the world to capture and share the moments of our lives.

7. The Regency TR-1 Transistor Radio (1954)

It is fun to think back to countless evenings as a child when I fell asleep listening to San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s baseball games with my transistor radio under my pillow. It is also fun to think about how we tell our kids today to put away their slightly more versatile electronic devices and go to sleep.

6. The Victrola Record Player (1906)

While the phonograph was invented in 1877, the Victrola was the first record player to bring classical music and opera to homes around the U.S. and the world.

5. The IBM Model 5150 (1981)

Remember the day when almost everyone had an IBM PC or an “IBM Compatible” computer running the DOS operating system? And to think it wasn’t that long ago!

4. The Sony Walkman (1979)

I fondly recall having my first Walkman at the University of Michigan and delighting in my ability to take my music anywhere, in multiples of twelve songs. All by the same artist. I was literally a party waiting to happen! I also fondly recall trying to explain to our kids who have grown up in the digital age, why this large, limited, and somewhat lame gadget was so cool and revolutionary.

3. The Apple Macintosh (1984)

Bold, brash, intuitive, and launched with much fanfare and symbolism in 1984. While it might not have been what George Orwell intended, the first Mac would begin to reframe our connection to “thinking” machines.

2. The Sony Trinitron (1968)

While it wasn’t the first TV or the first color TV, the Trinitron would raise the state-of-the-art in televisions and establish Sony’s place as a global leader in consumer technology.

And Number One is…

1. The Apple iPhone (2007)

An elegant and user-friendly device that would revolutionize our notion of phones and smart phones, and that today places more apps and more computing power in the palm of our hands than a major university computer center did when I was going to college.

It is an intriguing list and an interesting lesson in modern history. And except for missing the waffle iron, twist top bottle, nose hair trimmer, and Popeil’s “Pocket Fisherman,” I would have to say that the folks at Time are pretty spot on in capturing the gadgets that have shaped our lives.



Discovering Our Inner Strangers

Greetings. I’m delighted to share the first ever guest post on this blog…

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of being on The Engaging Brand podcast with Anna Farmery. It was a great opportunity to exchange ideas about my new book with a very thoughtful stranger who is also one of the world’s leading business bloggers and podcasters and a passionate fan of English football. Here is her intriguing new post on connecting with our “inner” stranger…

Inner Stranger Bobograph

As humans we are built to evolve, yet as we evolve we can lose touch with aspects of our own personality that can help us later in life. In Alan’s fabulous new book, I was struck by a quote –- not from a successful entrepreneur but his daughter –- which said: “ But if I don’t talk to strangers, how will I ever make new friends?”

The fresh outlook of the child tends to hit you straight between the eyes and it made me think about how as we mature we can lose track of our own “inner” strangers.

Let me explain…

1.  We rush through our early years wanting to be more grown up and yet those childlike qualities of being inquisitive, of not being afraid, of constantly asking why…they can be our very own best friends for our personal development. When was the last time you spoke to your inner child and let it play?

2.  We spend our adolescence cramming for exams and consuming so much new information, we are constant learners…then we get a job and can find ourselves too busy to learn. When was the last time you got in touch with your learning gene and helped the ‘mature you’ understand more about the world, technology, your customers?

3.  We fall in love and start to understand how relationships work, the joy of having that special person in our lives. When was the last time you allowed yourself to fall in love with something – an interest, life, knowledge?

4.  When our careers start to take off we look up to our bosses and feel we could do a better job…because they don’t understand the real issues, what makes the team tick, what the real opportunity of not always doing what we have always done truly is. When was the last time you put down your career hat and listened, really listened to the new upstarts! What time do you create to be your own competitor, your own upstart who challenges you to look in the mirror?

5.  Often through our lives we can talk ourselves away from what we are truly passionate about because we are told that dreams don’t pay the mortgage. When was the last time you sat down and committed to fulfilling your dream?

6.  Time is the one resource that is limited and that is why when you take time to be 100% with someone, truly listening to their concerns and not just hearing the words, it can be the highest return on investment that you can make. We loved it as children, we love it as adults. When was the last time you gave yourself a few minutes to think, to dream, to understand yourself? Don’t you deserve that too…

I agree wholeheartedly with the premise of Alan’s book and the challenge we all face to make the most of this fantastic world that we live in. We have more opportunities to connect both to ideas and people. But let us also be aware that our 6 inner strangers need our attention, because without feeding them our present self may be losing out on their greatest friends of all by not recognizing their inner strangers.

You can connect with Anna and follow her blog and podcast at:


Just know that she will be hard to reach when the Liverpool Football Club is playing. 

And you can listen to the podcast and discussion on “The Necessity of Strangers” here:

Timing is Everything

Greetings.  I recently heard the following quote–attributed to a Cherokee Chief: 

"The success of a rain dance depends a lot on timing."

And it started me thinking about the importance of timing in everything we do in business.  The importance of being first to market with an important new product, service, or solution.  The importance of responding quickly to a customer's request for information and insight.  The importance of creating and/or leveraging a new technology before our competitors.  The importance of being first to submit a solid proposal to a customer with a compelling need.  The importance of knowing when the timing is right to connect with a prospect.  The importance of communicating at the right times when a crucial message needs to be delivered and understood.    

In fact, timing is essential to the success of just about anything worth doing.  But all too often we forget to take the time to think about the best timing–allowing a compelling need to get something done, or a perceived lack of time, to disrupt our best intentions.  So this week, as you wrestle with all the things that matter most, take the time to figure out their most perfect timing.  A timing likely to achieve the very best results possible.  Because there is a best time for everything. Even those things for which "there is never a good time."


We win in business and in life when we try to figure out the best time to dance.  And when we realize that some dances are done for the simple joy of dancing while others are meant to change the weather.