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Robots are starting to break the law and nobody knows what to do about it

This opens up a whole new can of worms.


Maybe it’s a sign that robots are growing up, and thus hitting the rebellious stage.

The Random Darknet Shopper, an automated online shopping bot with a budget of $100 a week in Bitcoin, is programmed to do a very specific task: go to one particular marketplace on the Deep Web and make one random purchase a week with the provided allowance. The purchases have all been compiled for an art show in Zurich, Switzerland titled The Darknet: From Memes to Onionland, which runs through January 11.

The concept would be all gravy if not for one thing: the programmers came home one day to find a shipment of 10 ecstasy pills, followed by an apparently very legit falsified Hungarian passport– developments which have left some observers of the bot’s blog a little uneasy.

If this bot was shipping to the U.S., asks Forbes contributor and University of Washington law professor contributor Ryan Calo, who would…

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Creating Value and Sharing Values

As the Holiday Season of Thanks, Grace and Opportunities Ahead (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s) arrives, a colleague of mine begins a Kickstarter campaign which led me to pause. I had to reflect on how relevant these events are to each other. In fact, my colleague offers what M E Porter calls an opportunity to create shared value (CSV). If you understand the concepts of creating value, and sharing values this may be something you will want to review.

M E Porter offers “The concept of shared value can be defined as policies and operating practices that enhance the competitiveness of a company while simultaneously advancing the economic and social conditions in the communities in which it operates. Shared value creation focuses on identifying and expanding the connections between societal and economic progress.” ( In short, ‘profits ain’t everything.’

By merging hobbies, communities, locally owned enterprises, and a consumer with a desire to see all succeed, this Kickstarter campaign offers a micro-experiment in the future viability of creating value and sharing values as an important economic model. I hope you will take the time to read more about this campaign (

The 6X Rule

This week is the first week this year I haven’t traveled since January. A welcomed break. I usually take these times to de-clutter files, physical and electronic. Working through the physical records, I found a small notebook titled “Management Lessons.” I was writing this over 11 years ago. One of the lessons in there was ‘The 6X Rule.’ What follows are my notes on the topic, some post it notes I just found my wife placed there over 11 years ago. What I learned from this.

“There is a rule that exists that has seldom been understood. It has caused many to feel frustrated and confused. It has led to many misunderstandings between management and staff/employees. It is called the 6X rule. This rule defines the minimum number of times someone in management must tell a staff member before they actually hear a message. Several times in my management career I became frustrated because of a lack of involvement of the staff and employees. Putting out a memo, sending an email and expecting everyone to be involved only led to disappointment. Confronting staff or employees on the matter, their response was ‘I didn’t see it.’My reaction, frequency and variety matters. So I kept increasing and varying the manner of communications until I saw the level of involvement I desired. That number was 6 times, and in a variety of ways (emails, memos, in person, on the phone, in meetings, at lunch).”

I turn now in those notes and make this personal, my mistake. “Why 6X? I do not know. I look in my own life to see if that pattern exists in me. Nope. My boss or wife or children have not had to consistently tell me 6 times to do anything.”

What brought me to this chapter in the book were a series of post it notes with my wife’s handwriting. On one post it note, “This rule applies to Managers too. I’ve asked you 6 times (I counted) to tighten the oriental ornament in the backyard.” Ouch. Me? On the other side of the page where my notes exalted my rise above the masses was another 4 post it notes “Perhaps this will clear up the misunderstanding;

1. It may not seem important at the time

2. It’s really not that important

3. I have other things to worry about, it’s not that important

4. That’s just plain dumb, and therefore not important

5. What a crazy request when I am so important

6. I am full of myself. Your request is belittling me now. Its not important

She goes on further in the post it notes, “Well the $1,200 oriental yard ornament just broke. It broke because it wasn’t tightened. It’s not important to you but it was important to someone else. Therefore it did in fact matter. So see, that’s why it takes 6X’s to get someone to listen.”

Well now. I see a pattern. She failed to tell me it cost $1,200! But seriously, she has a point.

Are we communicating the things that are in fact important, why they’re important and how others’ involvement is needed? If an email went out to all staff and employees “Bonus checks will be handed out at 12:04 pm on Wednesday in the southeast corner of the floor below the HR department”, trust me all will be there. Anything less than that requires an ability to make the call to action important and relevant in staff and employees’ lives. So maybe it was the message and messenger after all.

Is your customer service strategy focused on the correct goal?


When it comes to airline complaints in the United States, low cost carrier Spirit is way ahead of the competition. In fact, passengers are three times as likely to have an issue with Spirit as the country’s next most complained-about carrier, Frontier Airlines. 

In 2013, Spirit had 9,440 complaints per 100,000 enplanements, an incredibly high figure. These relate to everything from delayed flights to issues with baggage. Frontier Airlines came second in 2013 with 3,087 complaints per 100,000 enplanements while United rounded off the top three with 2,144.

Since 2009, the annual revenues of Spirit has climbed from about $781 million to $1.6 billion. The facts could lead one to conclude that customer service does not matter after all. A better conclusion is Spirit has not “failed” to meet customer expectations of customer service. The expectations are already low, and the value received (trip) for the cost and the low customer service meets a market demand.

Are you as a company, trying to deliver excellent customer service? Is excellent customer service, or WOW! really needed? Is there an opportunity cost to not leveraging your real capability due to slavish devotion to the idea of WOW!?

Landline Phones Added to the Endangered Species List


According to data provided by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (PDF), landline phones are gradually losing relevance in the United States. The CDC has tracked phone ownership by U.S. households as a by-product of its biannual National Health Survey since 2004. Since then the percentage of households that have a landline phone has dropped from 92.7 percent to 58.1 percent, while the percentage of households with only cellphones has risen from 5 to 39.4 percent.

First it’s pay phones, then phone books, now the home phone will become extinct.

The Greying of Facebook

The debate about whether or not young people are losing interest in Facebook has been going on for a while now. Some say it’s a problem that the media invented, others say that teenagers are indeed jumping ship in favor of new, more hip services such as Instagram, Snapchat or Tumblr.

Yesterday, iStrategyLabs came out with a report that appears to prove Facebook’s teenager exodus. According to iStrategy, which pulls its data from Facebook’s social ad tool, the number of users aged 13-24 in the United States has declined by more than 6 million since January 2011. If the data is correct, Facebook’s teenage user base in the U.S. shrank by an alarming 25 percent in the past three years, indicating that Facebook does indeed have trouble reaching young users.

What will be the impact on the social media giant? Having recovered from the botched IPO, will this be Mark’s next biggest revenue challenge?

Shifting DEmographics

Digital Media Use Set to Exceed TV Time This Year


Digital media use of American adults will surpass TV use for the first time this year. According to recent eMarketer estimates, Americans aged 18 and older will spend an average of 4 hours and 40 minutes per day on their computers and mobile devices, exceeding TV time by 9 minutes. 

The sharp increase in digital media use is primarily caused by the rise of smart mobile devices. The non-voice use of mobile devices jumped from just 24 minutes in 2010 to 2 hours and 21 minutes this year. This increase happened at the expense of print media, as the use of newspapers and magazines continued to decline.

Please note that eMarketer’s estimates do include multitasking time, i.e. time spent using a smartphone while watching TV is counted towards the totals of TV and mobile both.