Forget about Valentine. Happy international mistress day.

I know I’ve said this before. I am truly sorry. But it’s only getting worse. There is a day for absolutely everything these days. I cannot open my computer, or people will be shooting at me with all kinds of reflective pieces of wisdom, smartly connected to whatever the flavor-of-this-particular national day is.  It makes me a bit tired. Pontifex abduction day. Mothers day… fathers day  Why, o why do I need a special day to honor my parents? By papal decree, should I give my mom flowers because some committee decided moms deserve a day all to themselves?  And what about international Nutella day (Feb 5th)? Or the International Nurses Day? (May 12th)? Do I hug all nurses?

January 8th is Elvis Presley day (no kidding). September 19th is Talk-like-a-pirate day. In June there is Shoe day. What about Global Handwashing Day (Oct 15th). God, I hope it is hand washing day EVERY day. There is International Pasta day (oct 25th). As said, it makes me grumpy, tired. Must be my status of middle(r)aged man. I hate international days of whatever

Tomorrow is Valentine’s day. The day of love. People all over the planet are heating up their credit cards, hunting for sweets, flowers, silky lingerie,  diamonds, cars, Chihuahua dogs, fur gloves and selected bottles of scotch. I see couples who have not spoken a kind word to each other in ages, book a table at the local Michelin starred restaurant. Because February 14th is Valentine’s day. The day of showing your love to your loved one. Va Savoir. You have all year for that. I hope.

Valentine’s day turned into a very unloving multi-billion dollar industry that thrives on red, pink, soft, bubbles and candle light. It has nothing to do with love. I spent 9 of the last 16 Valentine’s days at a technology exhibition, where I saw multiple business people give instructions to their personal assistants to arrange flowers for their significant others. For a lot of them, sending flowers or sweets did not hinder them a bit in flirting their way into new beds…

Valentine’s day. One of these days. It gives me the creeps. Call me a cynic, but with all of the expensive, glittering, sparkling, and bubbly gifts that will be bought and offered tomorrow –(often just to buy a clear conscience for the lack of genuine love the rest of the year)- my vote goes to International Mistress/Lovers day. No mistress/lover celebrates Valentine’s day. Ever.  That is for the legal, official spouses and significant others. International Mistress and Lovers day is February 13th , today, the day before the crazy global extravaganza of love. That, my sweet friends, says it all.

I will now curl into a furry ball, and wait till the glitter parade is over. February 15th is Galileo day.


Gary Vaynerchuk: “that one negative tweet will not kill your business. BP fucked up the ocean, and we’re still fueling up our cars”

Gary Vay Ner Chuk is not for the faint of heart. This 38 year old self-made typhoon has energy to spare, and then some.  Immigrated to the US three decades ago, he catapulted his father’s modest wine business into a multi-million dollar imperium using social media as the sole driver for the mindboggling growth. Vaynerchuk used YouTube to set up a wine TV channel, and went bananas on Twitter, Google+ , a plethora of other social platforms and the speaker circuit.  

Angel investor, brand strategist and author of a series of bestselling books, he is now at the helm of his own social media consultancy.

Vaynerchuk stands for right-in-your-face, f-word-carpet-bombed, no-nonsense, transparent communication:

Focus on the climbing, not on the summit, the journey is what gets you there.

Winter is coming: The ones opposing Google Glass are the same kind of people that predicted that the internet was dead, and that mobile phones would never make it. Progress is here, make the best of it. See technology as an extension of brain and body, embrace it. Technology, devices and platforms changed the way we live, communicate, and buy.

Program your kids the right way: why give a whole new generation the flying hillbillies by forcing them to memorize stuff that is fully accessible through the devices in their hands. We should teach them how to do, how to find, how to excel, how to succeed, not how to learn by heart. Kids cram things in their head, just to be able to reproduce at tomorrow’s test. Pathetic. We need to re-invent society, business… and education.

If you cannot swim, you cannot be a lifeguard: way too many agencies, gurus and ninjas are consulting companies and brands without having the necessary street credentials. If you cannot do it yourself, you’re useless as an adviser. Stop guiding people if you have no clue yourself, don’t kill off a social platform because you never even took the time on how to use it.

You will survive: stop being afraid of social media. BP fucked up a complete ocean, and we still pour their oil in our cars. That one tweet will not kill your business. So go express yourself and your brand. Invest in the best talent to help you with that. And that is not your cute looking young trainee.

Tell the best story, or die. Today’s communication business is like the game, music or movies business: merciless. Booby-trapped. Hit or miss. No room for non-greatness. You need to be the best storyteller to survive. Excel and thrive, or go mainstream and die. Good content and good story telling is the Grammy-winning name of the game.

Klout sucks: stop strategizing people’s kloutscore , following numbers or influence, try their relevance. Who are the people that can change your business? Maybe they have a Kloutscore of 21. Great. Work with them. Don t spend time looking what others do, do what is right for you.

Vaynerchuk dances with words, but he knows what he is talking about: don’t pour new wine in old barrels. Reinvent your game.

The Battle for Social World Domination: The Stacks : taking over your life

How do you get absolute control? That quest for world domination has been around for a couple of millennia. There are ways: become a dictator, a Kaiser, a God, Charlie Sheen, President of the United States or start a religion.

But there are other ways. 5 big companies are silently plotting their ways to world domination. They hide in the open, their battle so obvious that it stays hidden. Bruce Sterling, Sci-Fi writer, Visionary in residence and Transglobal Futurist exposed them already at his #SxSW2012 closing keynote:

“There is a new phenomenon that I like to call the Stacks; vertically integrated social media. And we’ve got five of them — Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft. The future of the stacks is basically to take over the internet and render it irrelevant. They’re not hostile to the internet — they’re just looking after their own situation. And they all think they’ll be the one Stack… and render the others irrelevant. And they’ll all be rendered irrelevant. That’s the future of the Stacks.

People like the Stacks, because the internet is scary now — so what’s the problem there? None of them offer any prosperity or security to their human participants, except for their shareholders. The internet has users. Stack people are livestock — ignorant of what’s going on, and moving from one stack to another. The Stacks really, really want to know you’re a dog.

They’re annihilating other media… The Lords of the Stacks. And they’re not bad guys — I’d be happy to buy them a beer. But really, a free people would not be so dependent on a Napoleonic mobile people. What if Mark Zuckerberg trips over a skateboard?

This structure won’t last very long… But you’re really core people for them and their interests. You are them. I’m them. And your kids are going to ask embarrassing questions about them. And there are voices here and there complaining about them, [like] Jonathan Franzen. He says Twitter is destroying literature. And he’s right. So don’t make fun of him. He’s telling the truth.”

What does it take?

Bruce has his way with words, and is passionate beyond suspicion. But is he right? Are Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft silently taking over our lives? What would it take, to achieve Social World Domination?

1.       Knowing where you are

Have you noticed it? That small side remark during Apples latest event? “We have our own maps now!”. So, maps are important. Knowing where you are, where you go, and how you get there gives the Stacks priceless information. That is why Google is happily mapping the whole planet, why Facebook is desperately trying to make its Places work (killing Gowalla as an afterthought). Apple just got its hands on the trusty Tele Atlas digital maps through its deal with TomTom. Microsoft nicely obtained direct access to the maps of Tele Atlas’s direct competitor Navteq, currently owned by… Nokia.

2.       Owning your hardware

So Microsoft got a lot more out of the Nokia deal than meets the eye. They have access to maps. But also, they secured an option on a vital world domination component: hardware.  After decades of software-only, Microsoft is desperately trying to get a bridgehead in hardware land. Through Nokia and HTC they aim for the smartphone, with the Surface they bring their technology into your living room, and their version of a tablet was announced last week.

Apple of course has a plethora of hardware devices, two of them sticking to your life as glue: the iPhone and the iPad. Google is making sweet eyes with Android, ensuring Google phones in every store. And tablets. Rumors of an upcoming  Facebook phone are all around…

Amazon has a hesitating first step into the hardware through its Kindle. You might not have noticed it, but Microsoft, Apple and Google  are even making it into the car…

3.       Owning your operating system

The heart, core and soul of your machine: your operating system. They own it. Apple and Microsoft obviously with their OS and Windows versions.  Google is quietly improving its Chrome OS.

Facebook  has hired enough brainpower with  Kean Wong,   Christopher Tremblay,  Georges Berenger, Li Fang,  Robert Boyce and Zachary Landau (top-notch specialists from Palm, Apple  and RIM) for an own mobile operating system and applications platform…  Amazon is doing unspeakable things with its Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and experimented with own versions of android.

4.       Owning your browser

The power lords have direct access to your online life through the browsers they own. Apple and Microsoft obviously through Safari and Explorer.  Google through its Chrome browser, Amazon is working on it with Silk, and Facebook is rumored trying to buy Opera Software  and its 200 million users worldwide of the Opera web browser.  Controlling the browser means controlling the internet history, and the internet behavior of the user. Controlling the browser means having the most intimate communication and marketing tool to influence people directly through their preferred web tool. Priceless.

5.       Owning your data, owning your search

Facebook, Youtube, Google,and Microsoft’s Bing. That is what people use to find what they are looking for: from social search, to factual search. Apple has no apparent own search engine, but is getting paid an amazing 1 billion dollar a year by Google to keep Google as the default Apple’s search.

With literally billions of user generated videos, pictures and texts hosted on their servers and platforms, and petabytes of personal data ready to be analyzed and data mined, the five power houses have more insights in consumer personality, profile, habits, spending behavior, and socio-environmental context than anyone else.  The combined stock value of the Stacks is only a fraction of what this goldmine in personal data is worth to seasoned marketers.

6.       Owning your cash

Amazon’s One Click Buying, Facebook’s credits, Apple’s iTunes and AppStore, Microsoft’s e-stores: the Stacks make it easy for you to spend money, or to get paid by third parties for anything you do online. Click on a sponsored link in Google generates hard cash. For Google. Not for you. Your online social life generates mountains of gold for Facebook. Apple is getting a whopping  30% on every paid application that gets downloaded from its AppStore . Amazon is getting a cut in every sale made through its notorious online long tail store.

7.       Owning your life

Quietly, the five Stacks are wrapping their mighty tentacles around the online consumers, sneaking their influence at the deepest caves of personal lives, thriving on direct hard cash and precious personal data that can (and will) be cashed in. The battle for World Supremacy is fought in the shadows, but it’s fought hard and relentless by young billionaires equally at ease on a skateboard, as in a corporate jet. It’s fought by mercenaries with great corporate hair, the whitest teeth you will ever see, and a lot at stake through their stock in the stack…

Bruce Sterling was right. Again. He always is ;-).


Go Wide? Go Deep? Stay Humble!

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Would you spend 10 minutes to reach 160 people? I would. And so would Gary Vaynerchuk.

Pixar: 22 Rules of Storytelling


If it’s good for Pixar…

I am Charlie…

I never write about politics. I never write about religion, I’m an agnostic.

I abhor fanaticism in every way, and religious and political fanaticism in particular.
I do believe however in everyone’s fundamental right to believe. I profoundly believe in everybody’s right to disagree, to voice discontentment, to protest, to use words, cartoons and satire as means of expression and as an intellectual weapon. I do believe in the power of dialogue, in the freedom of speech, in the freedom of expression.
I can’t accept a world or civilization where machineguns and senseless violence tries to win a moral or intellectual battle. I can’t see any reason why satirists Cabu, Charb, Tignous, Wolinski and their colleagues had to die.
I am sad. I am angry.
But I will never be speechless…


Facebook first? Think again…