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James Meadows
Works at Assemblies of God
Attended University of Phoenix
Lives in Kansas City, Missouri
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James Meadows

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WHEN BUGS ARE REALLY INTO LIGHT

No one enjoys being dinner for bugs. Worse yet, no one wants to become infected by disease-carrying mosquitoes. Fortunately, light-emitting diode (LED) technology is making some great strides in protecting us from these threats. Lighting Science Group is a Florida company that applies LED technology to better approaches with lighting and our environment. The company’s Web site affirms http://bit.ly/2abtU20 :

“we believe lighting should work with our bodies and the environment, not against them.”

Lighting Science Group has some exciting products and approaches in the works. Corinne Iozzio reports that the company’s technical strategy (“Into the Light” Fortune. June 1, 2016, p. 44):

“has led to highly tuned LEDs that disinfect water, keep astronauts on alert, and steer infant sea turtles away from highways. The effort is all about finding the perfect light to attract–and distract–insects.”

Different insects are attracted to or repelled by different wavelengths of light. Therefore, controlling the wavelength controls the bugs. And the more that the bugs are into the light, the less they will be into you and me. I like that idea!

The research is ongoing and promising. The company has plans to tune LEDs to specific insect species and do field testing to confirm efficacy. As the processes become better defined, anti-bug products will show up on the shelves. That is when we will enjoy doing a better job avoiding contact with the hungry throngs.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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LIVING UP TO ITS NAME: A THEORY

Yahoo is assessing bids for its Internet business. Bidders include AT&T, Verizon Communications, private equity firms, and many other suitors. This, after a four-year effort by CEO Marissa Mayer to rejuvenate the company. Writing for The New York Times, Vindu Goel and Michael J. de la Merced summarize the company’s predicament (http://nyti.ms/29F99vH):

“The sale of Yahoo’s business would close out a largely unsuccessful four-year effort by Marissa Mayer, the company’s chief executive, to turn around the internet company. Although Yahoo was once the place where many web users began their wanderings, it fell on hard times over the last decade through a series of strategic and managerial missteps. Although Yahoo’s properties still draw more than one billion visitors a month, the company accounts for a tiny slice of the time people spend online.”

Many factors contribute to a company’s long-term success or failure. These factors include advertising, marketing, public relations, quality control, leadership, talent management, employee engagement, attrition, cultural trends, customer sentiment, policies, competition, branding, crisis management, fiscal management, execution, and strategy just to name a few. While not in any way claiming to know the simple or complex answer to what has led to Yahoo’s challenging standing today, I do propose a theory based on just one simple reflection: my experience with the brand name.

For me personally, I could never truly get past the name. Yes, I realize that yahoo refers to an exclamation of excitement and fun. I get that. That has its attraction. We all understand the obvious intention in the brand name.

Simultaneously, we have a subtle problem. We know that yahoo means boring, lout, stupid, or crass. If someone calls you a yahoo, the implication is that you are not serious and you don’t know what you are doing. It means you are a barbarian, an oaf, a Neanderthal, a thug, or a clod. Therefore, every time that I was exposed to the name, in the back of my mind I had these negative associations that my brain logic tried to dismiss. I don’t know for sure whether my brain logic won out over my emotions.

Now I am not saying that a name alone is the sole driver of long-term success or failure. I am saying that a name can be a contributor to success or failure. Therefore, in this case, I am proposing that due to Yahoo’s name, many other folks had a similar experience to mine and therefore the name slowly yet relentlessly became a driver of failure.

Yes, I did genuinely try out Yahoo’s email and some of its other online services off and on over the years. My impression continuously was that competitor options and other avenues of service were consistently superior in the quality and reliability delivered. Therefore, I gravitated to them and found a much better customer experience.

I don’t know how accurate my theory is, but I am certainly interested in hearing from others on what they think.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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REFLECTIONS ON THE LEGACY OF A FUTURIST

When I heard the news last month that futurist Alvin Toffler had died at 87, I was instantly sad that we did not have even more time with this brilliant, insightful, and prescient person. I like to think of him as the first of the futurists.

I can remember decades ago reading his classic 1970 work, Future Shock, in which he addresses how we as people productively engage the challenges of change even when the rate of that change is ever increasing. He was one of the first powerful voices to champion the cause of stopping to analyze deeply how the future comes at us and what all its implications are. In many ways, he was ahead of his time (isn’t that what every futurist truly is?), and yet he was exquisitely perfect for his time. He was talking about such concepts as techno-social change and globalization before most of us were even aware of them. As a genuine futurist should do, he enlarged our conception of what the future might be.

A generation before PCs came on the scene and we all moved onto the Internet, Toffler was issuing the clarion call that science and technology were on an unavoidable collision course with humanity. For good or for bad, it would be humanity’s brilliance and humanity’s flaws that would create our future world.

Toffler asked us to stop, sit down, and meditate on who we are, where we had been, and where we were going. Toffler demanded that we give the future time before its time. He demanded that we wisely prepare for the future before it became the present when it was too late to prepare.

Much to my happiness, as I look around the world today, I see many Alvin Tofflers. In making that observation, I honor Toffler by tracking his ideas that constantly pulsate on the cutting edge of our culture. Although there can never truly be another Alvin Toffler, each one of us can perpetuate his futurist endeavor to make our world better while it continues to change with its ever quickening pace. Thankfully, I see that more today than I ever have in my life. Our science and technology, our passion for excellence, our dedication to humanity, and our ethical imperatives demand that we do no less.

With many thanks to Alvin Toffler, here’s to a bright—albeit ever changing—future for us all.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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THE SOFTWARE OF WHAT

Well, the Internet of Things (IOT) is upon us. It incrementally crawls our way, counting our computers to calculate the most cunning way to collect everything into one convenient command center. Whether the IOT is a modern hi-tech marvel for which we should all be grateful seems to be a matter of varied opinion. That opinion is somewhat based on your history, predilections, and experiences for good or for bad.

Sometimes the IOT goes well and sometimes . . . it’s just, “well!” It kind of reminds me of another era (late 1980s to early 1990s) when this wonderful thing called software was flooding the market of novice PC users. I call that time the Software Of What (SOW). The reason I say that is because so many PC crashes (and there were so many in those days!) were directly linked to that latest piece of software you installed. Technical support offices eventually would fess up, “yeah, we have a software conflict with [you fill in the blank], but we are working on a fix.” In the modern day we have advanced from the SOW to the IOT. I like the way that David Pogue (anchor columnist for Yahoo Tech and host of several NOVA miniseries) explains the joyful uncertainty surrounding the IOT (“At Your Command” Scientific American, July 2016, p. 25):

“The first moments of ownership usually involve downloading an app, creating an account and connecting the thing to your Wi-Fi network. Sometimes that all goes well. Sometimes there goes your Saturday afternoon.

Then you’ve got the Tower of Things Babel to contend with: The apps don’t talk to one another.”

Hey, let’s take it all in stride. We all know that our physical bodies encounter growing pains. What makes us think that we are exempt from them in our cyber-world bodies?

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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REMEMBERING COMMERCIALS

Does anyone remember what commercials are? Oh sure, we are still confronted by them occasionally when we are trapped by time and circumstance. However, as most of us realize, zapping through those commercials on a recorded TV program has become routine. Additionally, increasing numbers of viewers are cutting the cable cord to run with various streaming services.

Companies such as Viacom, CBS, Time Warner, and others are losing billions in market value as investors digest these trends. The world of TV entertainment is looking very different today than a generation ago. Exactly if and how the stakeholders choose to adapt is an interesting trend to watch. Perhaps in some cases, they will succumb to entropy and disappear from the entertainment landscape. Erin Griffith summarizes the current state of affairs (“Fear and Loathing in TV Land” Fortune, July 1, 2016, p. 48):

“The digital world has become a hostile place for advertising. . . .

By the time the TV companies catch up to the future, their business may be long gone.”

Advertising makes a lot of things possible in the entertainment world even when we do not appreciate its interruptive nature. The key players have to figure out a way to keep consumers happy and still generate a profit. Regardless of what strategy is created, I predict that our love/hate relationship with advertising will need some tough-love therapy.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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A CLASSIC CONTRAST

One of the market fixtures of the nation’s economy has been Sears. Sadly, the company has been in a long, slow decline for the past two decades. Last month the company announced that it was considering selling off three of its classic assets: Craftsman brand tools, DieHard batteries, and Kenmore appliances.

That announcement puts in stark contrast the position from which Sears once ruled the marketplace. It reminds us of these essential business lessons:

Anything can and will change.

Most factors that affect business are unpredictable.

Just because you are king of the hill one day never precludes sitting in the valley the next day.

If the Sears announcement does nothing more than prompt us to reflect upon the above truths, then we will all be further ahead for it. Business is tough enough already. Therefore, we must never forget these business lessons so that we can be better prepared for whatever the future brings.

Finally, I could not help but notice the thoughtful, almost poetic manner in which Lauren Coleman-Lochner summarizes the classic contrast between where Sears is today versus where Sears once was (“Searsly?” Bloomberg Businessweek, 6/6/16–6/12/16, pp. 14–15):

“Once upon a time, Sears was the Amazon.com and Walmart of U.S. merchandising. Customers could order just about anything for delivery—even a kit to build a 10-room colonial-style house—from the Sears catalog, a compendium of the American dream with a reach into the rural parts of the country that helped make Sears, Roebuck America’s largest merchant.” (p. 14)

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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NO WORRIES ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA

Before there was social media there was social. People were here first and people are social and social can happen anywhere. Media is just the assignment of the platform or the place. That is why we should have no worries about social media.

I do not for a nanosecond condone any of the bad and horrific behaviors that occur on social media. I do not appreciate any of the dysfunctionalism that is so often displayed. However, I recognize that social media just happens to be our latest technology-enabled water cooler or town square. Therefore, we will use it . . . because we are social and social was here first.

Social media is not to be condemned prima facie. As with so many objects in our world, it is not the object itself that is intrinsically good or evil. It is what we choose to do with the object that creates good or evil. I guarantee you that any good or evil we find on social media today was equally present at the water cooler or the town square in the past. We retain the same freedom today to use social media for good or for evil. I trust that we are using it for good and I believe that is the direction in which we must ever push. The good news is that social media is being used in countless ways for good.

Social media is relatively new to human society. But being human is not new. It is who we are. Let’s keep that in proper perspective. Along these lines, I appreciate Gary Vaynerchuk’s (Vaynermedia CEO) perspective (http://bit.ly/29S5u9a):

“we get scared of everything that we didn’t grow up with; it’s what human beings do. Every new medium brings along a healthy fear that the newest invention will ruin society. But, the truth is that people will always be looking for new ways to be entertained, consume media, and engage with each other. . . .

There is always going to be something in every generation that is going to ‘bring us down as a society.’ Either you are a pessimist or optimist on this issue. I am an optimist.”

Let’s be sure that we are looking beyond the medium to the real message. And because I am an optimist, I will continue to do that.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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TIME FOR REVERSE GEAR

When I learned about the first United States death linked to a self-driving car, my very first thought was, “Well, that changes everything!” And it should.

Technologically, self-driving cars are purported to take care of the passengers while the computers run the cars. In theory, this is marvelous. However, when something goes wrong, people can suffer and even die as was the case here. While a passenger in his Tesla Model S, 40-year-old Joshua D. Brown was killed when the car’s cameras did not distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer from the surrounding sunlit sky.

Product development involves a tremendous amount of research, planning, analysis, and unfortunately, trial and error. It is sad that in this case the error was deadly. Because of that, many aspects of the self-driving car model will need to be reassessed.

I am not saying we throw the brakes on it all. I believe our technology must always be free to chart new territory. I am saying what the engineers already know and I’m sure are already doing, and that is that all aspects of how these vehicles recognize objects in their environment must be meticulously reevaluated. Failing to do so will continue to put people at risk.

Self-driving cars navigate within their environment via a constellation of digital cameras, lasers, and radar sensors. They normally do this extremely well. Obviously, in this recent tragic accident when the white side of a trailer “looks like” the sky, they did not perform as well as required. This is where the engineers will be going back to the drawing board on those digital cameras, lasers, and radar sensors.

And this is why I say, “Well, that changes everything!” Because we have this technical knowledge about this product failure, manufacturers cannot push the same products to consumers in quite the same way. Until those algorithms, programs, and hardware are refined sufficiently, consumers will remain at serious risk. This is not good for the consumer and the car companies. Further, it is not ethical.

Well, that changes everything—or it should.

[Today’s post— http://blog.reliableinsights.com/2016/07/14/time-for-reverse-gear/ ]
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WHEN THE BOAT MUST FLOAT

I have been monitoring the Panama Canal expansion project completion with great interest. Finally complete after a decade, costing $5.4 billion, and involving 40,000 workers, the project was not without its difficult days. In fact, this one might turn out to be a classic case destined for the business school textbooks on how not to do project planning. A number of red flags catch our attention:

In 2009, the four-nation consortium led by a Spanish company, was awarded the bid at $3.1 billion. This was a billion dollars cheaper than the closest competitive bid. Was it realistic? Obviously not, since the total cost at completion was $5.4 billion.

From the beginning, leadership almost seemed in a state of disarray. As the New York Times describes, “Some executives appeared not to fully grasp how little money they had to complete a complex project with a tight deadline and a multicultural team whose members did not always see things the same way.” (Walt Bogdanich, Jacqueline Williams, and Ana Graciela Mendez. “Panama Canal Begins New Era under a Cloud” in The Kansas City Star. June 23, 2016, pp. 7A, 10A).

Lock design may have fallen short. Tugboat captains report that they will have difficulties escorting big container ships due to the tight fit. The new lock dimensions are 1,400 by 180 feet. Tugboats are about 100 feet long and the container ships are 1,200 by 160 feet. Do the math. Some experts assert that the new lock dimensions should have been 1,528 by 200 feet. We will have to see how the traffic flows, especially under all weather conditions.

Quality concerns about the concrete emerged. Unexpected leaks in the locks required repairs and reinforcements. That does not bode well for a facility that is supposed to control water.

You can only build as well as you can design, and you can only design as well as you can plan, and you can only plan as well as you can research. It always comes back to the research. I have never seen a project team that regretted it did too much research. I have seen many that regretted they did too little research.

In the Panama Canal expansion project, it seems the research was not as thorough as it should have been. Hopefully, business students will learn from it, project teams will learn from it, and every observer will learn from it. Many future “Panama Canals” await us. How well we do the research will make all the difference in the world.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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WHEN LESS LIMELIGHT IS GOOD

What do these companies have in common?

Uber.

Vanguard.

Fidelity.

Kaiser Permanente.

NFL.

State Farm.

Dell.

SpaceX.

According to Fortune, they are among the 25 most important private companies. Publicly traded companies are great. They will always have their place. Nevertheless, a trend is afoot of increasing numbers of companies choosing to remain private or switching to private ownership from being publicly traded as Geoff Colvin describes (“Private Desires”, June 1, 2016, pp. 52–57):

“American business is increasingly shunning the traditional marker of making it—being publicly traded—in favor of private ownership. While the total number of U.S. companies continues to grow, the number that are traded on stock exchanges has plunged 45% since peaking 20 years ago.” (p. 53)

Certain advantages arise when a company chooses to remain private or when a publicly traded company chooses to go private. Colvin goes on to emphasize the attractive and strategic benefits of corporate privacy:

“You know something big is happening when such high-profile public companies as Dell and Safeway go private. They rave about their newfound ability to invest for the long term and focus on the business rather than on Wall Street, but the truth is that both were motivated in large part by that modern scourge of public companies, the activist investor.”

Being able to concentrate resources on the business itself is a great efficiency and effectiveness enhancer. Simultaneously, much energy can be preserved by not having to be constantly addressing the whims and woos of the public or other investors.

Obviously, private companies should still be extremely attentive to the public’s feedback. A private company should have just as much of a commitment as a public company to producing a stellar customer experience, maintaining good public relations, and doing business ethically. I think that the private company can be the leaner, meaner machine to reach those objectives. And there’s a whole lot of private companies that feel the same way.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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WHEN MATTRESSES ARE BETTER BANKS

Interest rates are always a concern, especially when it comes to your money. As long as the financial institution is paying you a reasonable interest rate for the use of your money, then everyone is happy. However, if that interest rate ever becomes extremely low, then you must reevaluate matters. That is what consumers in Japan are doing right now.

This past January, the Bank of Japan announced interest rates in the negative. Should that carry through to the rates on consumer accounts, then your mattress starts to look better than the bank. That is exactly what some Japanese consumers are now doing (Kevin Buckland, Shigeki Nozawa, and Kazumi Miura. “Japanese Choose the Mattress Over Banks” Bloomberg Businessweek, 6/6/16–6/12/16, pp. 12–13):

“When the Bank of Japan unexpectedly announced negative interest rate policies in January, the first thing Tomomi Sato did was withdraw a 10th of the money in her bank account to keep it safe at home.” (p. 12)

Hey, inflation is something that we must always watch. Nevertheless, it’s better than deflation most days. Here’s hoping we don’t have to make our mattresses do double duty.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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UPSWING FOR ENTREPRENEURS

Entrepreneurs are extremely important to growth in technology, business, jobs, and the economy. Unfortunately, the Great Recession had a negative effect on entrepreneurial activities as indicated by the Kauffman Index of Growth Entrepreneurship data. Shortly after 2008 is when that index began to decline. The good news is that it bottomed out in 2013 and since then it has been on a strong upswing.

No one can argue that the Great Recession had a negative impact on our national economy on multiple levels. This is why I am so glad to see that the entrepreneurs are getting back into the game with increasing intensity. It is the entrepreneurs that assume the risk, forge ahead with new visions and ideas, and ultimately create opportunities that enrich many other segments of the marketplace and our society. Simultaneously, financial institutions and angel investors see the opportunities and feel empowered to loosen their purse strings.

As they have done so many times in the past, we are trusting that our entrepreneurs will continue to take the lead in shaping a better future for us all.

[Today’s post— Blog.reliableinsights.com.]
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People
Work
Occupation
Training Team Manager, Business Consultant, Freelance Corporate Writer, Ordained Minister, and Associate Faculty Member
Employment
  • Assemblies of God
    Ordained Minister, 1985 - present
  • Jimfreelance.com
    Freelance Corporate Writer, 1988 - present
  • Reliableinsights.com
    Business Consultant, 1999 - present
  • University of Phoenix
    Associate Faculty, 2010 - present
  • Tyco Integrated Security
    Training Team Manager, 2005 - present
  • Central Bible College
    Adjunct Faculty, 1997 - 2002
  • AT&T
    Quality Manager, 1996 - 2005
  • New Paradigm Business Enterprises
    Owner, 1995 - 1996
  • Assemblies of God
    Data Control Clerk, 1986 - 1988
  • Eastman Kodak
    Chemical Technician, 1978 - 1985
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Kansas City, Missouri
Story
Introduction
  • Assemblies of God Ordained Minister.
  • Tyco Integrated Security Training Team Manager.
  • Freelance Corporate Writer.
  • Business Consultant.
  • University of Phoenix Associate Faculty.
  • Passionate about all I do, and always carry an indelible sense of humor.
  • Although I am involved in many different disciplines, I continuously find they synergistically cross-pollinate to make me even more effective in each one.
  • Business blog www.blog.reliableinsights.com.
  • Business humor blog www.recallredeemerman.blogspot.com.

 

Bragging rights
Survived Y2K and three teenagers. Married 32 years to the same wonderful woman. Two-time winner of the AT&T Winning Spirit Award.
Education
  • University of Phoenix
    M.B.A., 2007 - 2009
  • Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
    D.Min. (all but project), 1993 - 1996
  • Assemblies of God Theological Seminary
    M.Div. Pastoral Counseling, 1986 - 1988
  • Central Bible College
    Theology and Philosophy, 1985 - 1985
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
    B.S. Chemistry, 1978 - 1983
  • Broome Community College
    A.A.S. Chemical Technology, 1975 - 1978
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Relationship
Married
Other names
James T. Meadows; Jim Meadows