Thursday, December 22, 2011

Feeling The Anticipation Of Unknown Like In Spring 1989?

I am privileged to meet several interesting and inspiring people. Lately they have one thing in common. They talk about an upcoming change, that they are not able to define more precisely. Something is in the air. No one knows when it arrives and if it will be positive for us or totally not.

When the first wave of crisis came, we were joking about the good times that passed away and we started to prepare ourselves for the worse.  But nowadays it is different. People talk about second wave of crisis and they do not forget to add their odd feeling that it will be combined with some kind of transformation for all of us.

The death of Vaclav Havel and subsequent funeral spectacle in the streets of Prague intensified the feeling even more. Suddenly the everyday news about economical and political corruption was suppressed by a reminder of what ideals we have fought for in 1989. This retrospective view helps many people to pause and remind self, what they want from life and what definitely not. The realization is obvious especially for the younger generation, which takes the torch from the passing ones. They sincerely come to pay tribute to Vaclav Havel and don´t forget to show with their fingers the victory symbol, they do not forget to ring the keys, similarly as their parents did twenty-two years ago.  

The situation was however different at that time. We knew well what we want to fight for. We wanted freedom of speech and the same rights for everybody regardless of our origin or participation in a political party. We wanted to open borders and free the economy. We thrived to exchange the absolutistic governance of a communistic party for a true democracy.

People nowadays feel the transformation is on its way however concrete - generally accepted - formulation of what the change should bring us is missing. We are only at the beginning.

Vaclav Havel fulfilled his historical role. Even the timing of his passing away during the period of uprising discussion about the possible future arrangements is more than symbolic. People suddenly ask how much utopia there is in his claim of “Truth and love will win over lies and hate.” They remind themselves about their feelings from the beginning of the nineties, when the new opportunities opened up in front of them. Secretly they wish they would like to live it through once more. They would like to have again the euphoria and hope for the better future.  During the Velvet Revolution twenty two years ago they realized their own worth and the power they can have if they decide to use it to change the world for the better.  They used to have a goal that somehow disappeared during the last years. But their time still can come. Who knows?

It is very hard to anticipate what the future brings. With some exceptions – of course. I will never forget my university teacher (of Marxism-Leninism philosophy)  in 1989 who encouraged us on Wednesday, November 15th to come with candles to Albertov (in the center of Prague) on November 17th. He said there may be no lesson week after. And he was so right…

Regardless of what the future brings I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Very Peaceful, Prosperous, Healthy and Happy Year 2012!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Regardless of Personal Failures And Economical Crisis

The Czechs are in the most pessimistic mood measured during the last 18 years. At least according to a report from the research agency STEM. More than half of our population thinks that the situation will even worsen during the next five years. They are afraid of keeping their jobs, they are not sure if they will be able to take care about their family, in situation when they have to pay mortgages and when they have to cope with increasing living costs.

The suffering hits mainly the older ones, who are less sure to find a relevant job if things go out of the way in the current one. More and more people look for help at psychologists, who cannot always support them during these turbulent times. For jobless people it is becoming difficult to define long-term goals, and the general advices do not matter to them at all. They need to find new motivation to live fully, something very concrete, long-term, even though maybe small. They need to get the reassurance that something in life works for them well. They need hope that one small success can be replicated to magnify their self-confidence.

Everybody of us has the same opportunity to find the place under the sun on this planet, which would satisfy his/her needs. Even though sometimes the search for this place takes way too much time, even though it sometimes means that people have to get back to the roots of who they were before they started to feel the pressure of their surroundings, causing them to believe that they have to achieve or keep something very concrete, no matter what. There are many people who found the life fulfillment only when they escaped routine “lines” and only then started to do things that they truly enjoyed. They opened their small businesses, or they started to devote their precious time to others. They had to have a new goal, which they followed with passion. They had to adjust to the new situation. They learnt not to stick to money or job role, but to enjoy everyday life. Maybe they have realized that there is always somebody, who does not have so much luck as they have. Even small thing started to enlighten their day.        

Why some people are capable to live fulfilled life and others feel so empty? Why some of us wake up in the morning feeling the world is full of opportunities, available for them and the others feel pain of another day they have to somehow survive?

Happy people have one thing in common. They have lived through failures as well as successes. It was most difficult for them to learn to limitlessly trust their faith that they will achieve their envisioned goal - regardless of all the obstacles they faced on their journey, regardless of the fact that they one day felt burnt out and helpless. They were not afraid to step into the unknown. They continued to go fiercely for their dreams, outside their comfort zone. They explored new boarders. They personally grew (like a vintage wine) and this growth loaded them with additional energy and passion, it confirmed their life meaning. The more pitfalls they crossed, the more personal fulfillment they felt in the end.

The obstacles we face in life are not always a bad thing. We should be grateful for them as they stimulate us to action, they provoke us not to stagnate. The journey each of us chooses is only and only ours. We can choose between success and failure, fulfillment and emptiness, living or surviving.

Failures should be blessed. At least according to the successful author and marketing guru Seth Godin who said: My lesson was if I fail more than you do, I win because built in that lesson is that you get to keep playing, you get to keep failing, and sooner or later you succeed. The people who lose are those who do not fail at all, or who play so big they do not want to play again. They don´t try stuff. Only rarely the cost of failure is greater than the cost of discovering what works and what does not.”

How could we pass the torch of Seth Godin to many people who only know how to complain about circumstances and do not try to improve their situation, because of their fear of unknown? Despite the fact that they SAY they want to start over again (in work, personal life, in sport etc), they NEVER DO anything. They do not try to find a better solution for themselves.

It does not have to be like that. C.S.Lewis, the Irish author of The Chronicles of Narnia once said: You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.“ Let´s follow his thoughts and throw away the fear of future. If we are not passing away, we always have a chance to start over again. We always can fill the cups of our life. Exactly as Roman poet Horatius appealed already 21 centuries ago “Carpe Diem”!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

2012 = The Year Of Mastering Value Creation from Big Data

Every minute you are not using Big Data means a lost business opportunity. In an information society, information is money. The trick is to generate value by extracting the right information from the digital universe. Forrester, McKinsey, and IBM have all issued white papers or reports in the last months discussing the impact that the analysis of big data will have on business. We may be on the threshold of a major period of exploration of the digital universe.

Big data isn’t anything new. It is just getting bigger. As the price of analytic software, sensors and communication devices continues to fall to one-sixth of what it was in 2005*), mastering of big data starts to lose intelligence offices privileges and becomes mainstream thanks to rapid business exploitation.

Big data refers to the totality of information available - all data that might help create a more complete understanding about an issue or person or provide an answer to some question. „Big data technologies describe a new generation of technologies and architectures, designed to economically extract value from very large volumes of a wide variety of data, by enabling high-velocity capture, discovery and / or analysis,” as per the IDC study. It is about finding answers where there are yet to be questions.

Historically all kind of data was used to confirm or support decisions that had already been made (bar and pie charts), rather than to learn new things and discover the right answer. The volume and unstructured nature of so-called “big data” prevented much in a way of analysis. It was very time-consuming. It required the ability to assimilate many kinds of media and info sources. But nowadays we have computers that are close to being able to look at large amounts of different kind of data to provide summaries, make suggestions, as well as to draw real-time insightful conclusions.

In recent months all kind of Companies – mainly coming from pharmaceuticals, retail, telecommunications or insurance industries - have started to deploy big data strategies. They are shifting their organizations from using intuition towards making decisions based on using large-scale data gathering and analytics. Via easy to operate, immediate, sorted internal and external information from around the world, companies obtain insights that would otherwise remain hidden. Using those insights Companies are able to better shape their strategy, to better manage their risks, to better than competition anticipate moves of customers and industry and thus they are able to improve their overall performance.

According McKinsey research such progressive companies record measurable improvement in productivity and other performance measures: „A one-standard-deviation increase toward data and analytics was correlated with about a 5 to 6 percent improvement in productivity and a slightly larger increase in profitability in those same firms. The implication for companies is that by changing the way they make decisions, they’re likely to be able to outperform competitors.“

As the big data management tools will continue to become standard business enabler, future competitive advantages will be in the hands of those, for whom it will become a new type of corporate asset. These will be companies that have made a commitment to regard data need highly. They will be able to build a low-cost, reliable infrastructure for data collection and storage using digital assets. They will be not only able to capture more and better data, but they will also have the possibility to do a fundamentally different decision making. They will be able to use data timely and effectively across the whole organization, they will be able to drive the changes in organizations that are coming their way. They will test hypotheses and analyze results to guide investment decisions and operational changes. They will collect best practices for leveraging and extracting value from data. They will no more operate in internal silos, as they will use one collective info-net.

 “The ultimate value of a big data implementation will be judged based on one or more of three criteria (IDC study):
-           Does it provide more useful information?
-           Does it improve the fidelity of the information?
-           Does it improve the timeliness of the response?”

Upcoming period of the digital universe exploration will not be without its challenges. But it will represent a unique opportunity for those Companies who are up-to-speed and ready for fast adoption of new technologies. Huge flood of data and analytical opportunities will create more value for people who can be creative in seeing patterns and for people who can be entrepreneurial in creating new business opportunities that take advantage of these patterns. The success of many enterprises in the coming years will be determined by how the Co. will thrive in driving the required enterprise adjustment – not just on the technical site, but on the cultural, people site as well.

*) „Technology has helped driving the cost of creating, capturing, managing and storing information down to one-sixth of what it was in 2005. Since 2005 the investment by enterprises in the digital universe has increased 50% - to $4 trillion.“ IDG study

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Prize Roman Stanek Has To Pay in the Czech Republic For His Success

Roman Stanek
The published one-sided emotional article of Jiri Donat came last week as a time bomb: “The $28.5 million backed company GoodData threatens our student startup with lawsuit”. Article written in Czech and English. 

Roman Stanek, CEO and Founder of GoodData definitely deserves better publicity than that. Despite of what Donat says, this not a story of David and Goliash. This case shows that we have still a way to go as a country, or as individuals (being it seasoned managers or just students) in the area of ethics of communication as well as in respecting Terms of Usage of global company data and services. We just cannot ignore the law. 

Roman Stanek has managed something what the other Czechs just dream about – he has founded a very successful GoodData company, based in San Francisco, that is booming (+ 500% yoy growth) on the fast developing computer-clout market. He obtained investments’ back-up from famous Andreessen Horowitz venture capital firm, that holds stock among others also in Facebook, Groupon, Twitter and Zynga. And he has the privilege to work directly with Google’s enterprise chief, Girouard, that joined the GoodData management board this summer. Stanek’s task as legal representative of the company is to assure proper Company governance (including intellectual property rights / data protection). 

On the other hand Jiri Donat (ex Siemens, ex Deloitte, currently Associated Director in A.T.Kearney) the CEO of, that is operated by students, fights his strange battle with Roman Stanek via media. Donat has decided that he disputes publicly the GoodData Terms of Usage and provided readers and other media houses just one-sided emotional information. But this was not enough for him, Donat published even the details of e-mail correspondence written by Stanek. Donat decided to emotionally describe just half of the story, to obtain the public support for the “poor” students, who have no chance to win the legal battle (as if he knew the law is not on his side). Justifying himself that he had to do it because Roman Stanek had Saturday and Sunday to reply his e-mail which he did not manage (note: generous when Mr. Stanek lives in San Francisco, and he was not warned about the Donat' s threats). 

Czech Tech community is now divided in comments into two camps – one group believes that this is just a PR campaign of a start-up for generating awareness. Of a start-up that does not care about ethics and rules of communication, that should withdraw the questionable data first from their website and negotiate their usage with GoodData afterwards. The other group supports Donat in his pursue of own interpretation of the law and side the story of "poor students" who´s project is now in danger. They don´t judge the legal perspective, they look on human aspect of the whole thing.

Respected start-ups in the civilized world prefer personal talks and search for win-win solutions before using the power of public voice.  Respected start-ups do not build their company awareness on the principle of attacking others. Respected leaders do not publish other party correspondence, especially when hiding own steps. Successful start-ups base their audience engagement on quality of their products and services. 

I am sure that because Roman Stanek believes that “Tough times create tough Companies”, this small episode will help Good Data to strengthen their position and also they will be more ready next time to face surprising unfair attacks, especially if they come from the home country. 

I personally wish that next time, when we, the Czechs, send the messages to the world, they will have such substance, that will inspire other nations and generate respect for what we, here - in small country - are capable to invent, not the stories similar to fake David and Goliash, where the need to obey to law and ethics are disputed. 

Roman Stanek

Is one of few Czech entrepreneurs who managed to transfer his success traits to the U.S., the home of tech innovation. He is today well known among business circles and Venture Capitalist in Silicon Valley, as the Company GoodData - which he founded and which he leads as CEO – has its head-office there. 

Nowadays Good Data have back up of $28.5 million investments funds, coming mainly from famous Andreessen Horowitz venture capital firm, that holds stock in all four of the highest-valued privately held social-media companies: Facebook, Groupon, Twitter and Zynga

Roman could receive this backing up of such a famous VC firm, only because he never thought his Czech roots were a limit for him. He always believed that: “We live in a flat world. Building thriving start-up Companies is possible also in Europe, or even in the Czech republic.” Nationality does not matter. But for the Company scale and networking purposes it is advisable to be based close to the TECH beating-heart center – close to California. 

Community, collaboration and governance are the three focus areas of Roman. Roman also shares the Seth Godin’s wisdom, that “It takes three years to be an overnight success, sometimes more.” Roman – although still born under state controlled and planned communist regime - built up his way as self made serial entrepreneur of three global companies. His real success came during the last decade, when his booming companies were acquired by leading multinationals: NetBeans (acquired by Sun Microsystems) and Systinet (acquired by Mercury Interactive and later Hewlett Packard). 

Andreessen Horowitz’s O’Farrell on GoodData: “I see the startup becoming a billion dollar company.” 

Girouard: “GoodData has an amazing opportunity to build a huge business, and GoodData has taken a unique and promising approach to leading in this market.” 


Started back in 2007 based on the insight that cloud computing could enable businesses to operate more efficiently when linked with data analytics, simplified processes, best practices and actionable insights – in sales, customer service and other areas. Over 2,500 companies, including Software AG, Time Warner Cable, Capgemini and Pandora Media, rely on GoodData’s data intelligence products. The company has seen 500% growth in overall platform usage in 2011 alone and is currently managing over 6,500 unique customer data mark. And more than 2 million reports were executed on the GoodData cloud BI platform in July of this year.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Steve Jobs´ Journey Toward His Dream: Through Different Eyes

Picture by Jonathan Mak
The world is mourning. Steve Jobs died. Apple stores were immediately covered with flowers, candles and messages from his fans. I used to show him as role model to my colleagues, as he was able to build a Company that is thriving to go for more than only money. 

Jobs was half a genius, half an artist. He managed to connect the technical world with the art. He managed to change the angle in which personal computers, mobile phones, music or animated film are viewed. As an outstanding visionary, he was the author of more than 300 patents himself, he was behind the success of iPhones, iPods and iPads. He has built the most valuable Company in the world with a salary of only 1 dollar per year.

Dylan and Picasso were his icons, he admired them for refusal to stand still, for choosing their own way. They always wanted to further develop themselves, they kept risking failure. Same as Steve Jobs. He himself gave in the 80th his voice to the TV ad, in which he encouraged people to think differently. He believed, that “Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” He wanted to sell experiences, not products. 

Jobs was thrilled by revolutionary changes. He once said: “Because they are harder. They’re more stressful emotionally. And you usually go through a period where everybody tells you that you’ve completely failed.” 

Jobs tried to protect his privacy until last minute. This did not stop him however to become the face of a company, which he together with Steve Wozniak founded in 1976, and to which he returned after forced break in 1997, to prevent it from possible bankruptcy. Jobs was the one who managed to pass his passion for Apple total experience to others, to engage others to become part of one big cult family, named Apple. 

Jobs had big visions. He wanted to do a ding in the Universe. He wanted be the best. Anytime, anywhere. He managed to succeed despite his misfortune. Despite the fact that he was not wanted by his parents, despite starving during his University days from lack of money (having one warm meal per week in the Hare Krishna), despite the fact that he was fired from a Company he himself founded, or as well despite his non-curable pancreatic cancer. Each time he was able to put himself together, used setbacks to strengthen self and continued with even bigger drive and passion the journey to fight for his dream. 

Jobs experienced what it takes to be publicly cursed or exalted. His last decade was the most fruitful for him. He became the icon. Maybe because he realized that he is mortal. Maybe because he was able to finally deal with his past, when he denied paternity of his daughter, when he did not finish the university, when he tested the LSD drug or when he refused to pay deserved bonus to his friend Wozniak.

He did not care much about others most of the time when he went for his goal. In his desire to be perfect, he used to be tough not only towards himself, but also towards his employees and business partners. He did not mind to wake them up from bed in the middle of the night and ask them to immediately rework things. But when you are a genius, the world does not judge you the same way. The best professionals followed him with passion anyhow. 

Would it be possible for Steve Jobs to change the world and stand aside the world inventors like Henry Ford or Thomas Edison, if he did not went through so many failures? Would he be able to realize, that he has to live every single day fully, when he would not feel the end of his life is approaching? 

Maybe his authorized biography, which is going to be published already on October 24th (and most probably will be also showed in a feature film by Sony) will reveal more things. Jobs has allowed Walter Isaacson to get closer to him. He wanted his children to understand his motives, and why he was not there for them when they needed him most. Jobs tried to unveil his personal life mission to them as well as to the Stanford´s students: 

„Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.

For more quotes from Steve Jobs - Please refer to my older blog: Steve Jobs´ Most Relevant Quotes You Never Dare To Forget


Monday, October 3, 2011

Too Much Authenticity From ex-Yahoo!´s Carol Bartz

Everybody appreciates true authentici­ty, especially when displayed by CEOs. However the boarder line between being courageous and being immoderate is really thin. Especially for Carol Bartz (63). Her actions when splitting up with Yahoo! have shown that she generated more publicity about HOW she has left her CEO job there, rather than for what she has done over the last two and a half years in her role.

Breast cancer survivor Carol Bartz was always known for her blunt leadership style. She has always been a no nonsense. When she has learn that she is being fired by the Yahoo! board this September, she has dealt with this unexpected news in her own way. Even before completing her departure deal with the board, she was quick to announce to all Yahoo's 14,000 employees via an iPad email:  "I am very sad to tell you that I've just been fired over the phone by Yahoo's Chairman of the Board (Roy Bostock). It has been my pleasure to work with all of you and I wish you only the best going forward. "

The firing of Bartz was messier than it needed to be. Several sources admitted that she was caught by surprise. In her first interview with Fortune since her dismissal, she was very direct to describe her situation: "These people f---ed me over." … On Tuesday, Bartz was in New York, to speak at Citigroup's (C) technology conference the next day, when she was supposed to call Roy Bostock at 6 p.m. "I called him at 6:06," she recalls. When he got on the line, she says, he started reading a lawyer's prepared statement to dismiss her."I said, 'Roy, I think that's a script,'" adding, "'Why don't you have the balls to tell me yourself?'"When Bostock finished reading, Bartz didn't argue—"I got it. I got it," she told the Yahoo chairman. "I thought you were classier," she added. Such kind of statements burn a lot of bridges and divide people into her fans or rather strict opponents.

Bartz is a seasoned executive, proud for what she has achieved, not wiling to be in any way manipulated. She often uses „salty“ language to express her blunt assessments. Reporters love her unforgettable bon mots – e.g. when she refered to Yahoo!'s board as a "bunch of doofuses“  or back in May 2010, when she became famous for her sharp response to aggressive interview attack of Michael Arrington, the internet tech blogger, when she used the „fuck off“ /you tube link/ words to calm him down.

Once Bartz said: "I have a belief that life isn't about balance, because balance is perfection ... Rather, it's about catching the ball before it hits the floor ." Now she entered a period of life to decide which ball she wants to catch up next. The couriosity stands around the question if she is going to learn to build bridges and gather fans.

Note:  According to Mashable: Yahoo, the No. 1 search engine early last decade and a product of the late 1990s dot-com boom, has in recent years lost ground to Google Inc. and been hurt by social-network firm Facebook Inc. Both are taking away market share in selling online graphical and video ads, a market in which Yahoo previously shone. The number of minutes that U.S. website visitors spend on Yahoo sites per month has dropped 33% since Ms. Bartz's arrival 2 ½ years ago, according to comScore Inc.  

Bartz, 63, never was able to articulate a strategy to win over investors. Despite being one of the pioneers in the online search business, Yahoo has seen its market share dwindle in recent times. Not only have the users turned to its rivals, advertisers have also been ditching the company. Research firm eMarketer has projected that Facebook will overtake Yahoo in online display advertising in the US this year. Analysts said a lack of focus and direction have hurt the company's image.

 A mother of three and a breast-cancer survivor, Ms. Bartz grew up in a small town in Wisconsin, where she was a high-school homecoming queen. She became a top executive at Sun Microsystems before becoming CEO of Autodesk Inc., which develops software for designers. In 14 years at Autodesk, she increased revenue and the share price. She stepped down in 2006 before being lured to Yahoo's headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif., three years later. "

Bartz Timeline according to Mercury News: