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The 5G Race: China And South Korea Are Winning

5G.png

The 5G race is being won by China and South Korea, according to a report conducted by research firm Analysys Mason and released today by CTIA, America's premier wireless industry association.

According to the research, China is in the lead, followed by South Korea, the U.S. and Japan. Germany, the U.K. and France are in the second tier of countries in terms of readiness.

America lags in “5G readiness” due to reliance on private providers -- Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint -- to build antenna infrastructure. China’s wireless providers, on the other hand, are streamlined by government mandate. 

Why this matters - 5G systems support 1k more devices per meter than 4G, using higher frequencies and secondary antennae to relay signals. It also eliminates the transmission inconsistencies and slowdowns caused by buildings, mountains, and crowds.

The global competition is propelling 5G development much faster than was originally expected, with carriers and some cities moving quickly to install infrastructure, said CTIA president and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker, a former FCC commissioner.

The Trump administration see this situation as a threat, especially from China.

Last month the administration blocked Broadcom's proposed buyout of Qualcomm on national security grounds. The administration also fears that Broadcom's business practices would weaken Qualcomm's and the U.S.'s 5G position — allowing Huawei a bigger advantage.

Key findings by Analysys Mason include:

All major Chinese providers have committed to specific launch dates and the government has committed to at least 100 MHz of mid-band spectrum and 2,000 MHz of high-band spectrum for each wireless provider.

Countries around the world are moving quickly to make spectrum available for 5G. This year alone, the U.K., Spain, and Italy are all holding 5G spectrum auctions.

At the end of 2018, the U.S. will rank sixth out of the 10 countries in mid-band (3–24GHz) spectrum availability, a critical band for 5G. The U.S. joins Russia and Canada as the only countries currently without announced plans to allocate mid-band spectrum on an exclusive basis to mobile by the end of 2020.

Countries like the U.K. and regions like the European Union are taking significant steps to modernize infrastructure rules to facilitate the deployment of 5G networks.

Read can read the report here: http://bit.ly/2HFbTqA

-Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross is the founder of Brigadoon and specializes in developing winning communications, content, connections, and commerce for entrepreneurs and thought leaders.

Back on Campus, Theme Park Designers, Prioritizing, R.E.M., Bananas vs. Sports Drinks

The Weekly Brigadoon.png

Back on Campus, Theme Park Designers, Prioritizing, R.E.M., Bananas vs. Sports Drinks

The Weekly | Brigadoon
April 15, 2018
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia

The Weekly  = Enterprise + Culture + Sport + Policy

Subscribe here: http://thebrigadoon.com/subscribe/


ROSS RANT

Go back to school

One of the best thought leader, low hanging fruit techniques is to get reconnected to your school - be it high school, college, or graduate. 

You need your schools. 

Over the last few days, I have been down in Chapel Hill, North Carolina attending alumni weekend festivities for the Kenan-Flagler Business School. I was fortunate to be asked to speak with two marketing classes of current students on the intersection of the retail sector and public policy as well as lead a lecture on retail disruption for the alumni back on campus. You can see the decks here: retail politics and retail disruption.

Talking with students as they are about to embark on their careers is a fantastic opportunity. To answer their questions and share your experience I found to be a most wonderful exchange for all involved. Also, you need to be on your game as your audience has immediate access to the WWW to challenge your ideas in real-time, or worse, you are white noise as they tune you out, so they update their Pinterest pages.

Speaking with the alumni, be it 2017 MBA graduates not even 365 days out of college, or older students who departed the school in the 80s, 70s, and even 60s can't be beaten as a venue to present your ideas. This type of cross-generation audience fosters an exchange of experience and knowledge that is a challenge to replicate on a daily workday.

As you think about upping your thought leadership game as a means to improve your experience and knowledge, think about going back to school. Reach out to that alumni director, speak with a former teacher, or find conference taking place on campus.

The ability to share ideas, speak with students, engage alumni from decades past in a safe and friendly environment is a powerful tool that will help you expand your thought leader capabilities. 

FIVE ARTICLES TO READ

Theme park designers are preaching the importance of play over technology these days. https://lat.ms/2GPRcqU

Play > Technology

Brigadoon > Conference


Blockchain is not only crappy technology but a bad vision for the future http://bit.ly/2uZmSZ5

The future of what: Data! What is it good for? These days there’s nothing but data out there - social media statistics, Spotify artist insights, info about who your fans are, where they are, and when they listen to your music. But what do you do with all this data? And who is really benefiting from it? http://bit.ly/2GJhD5o

Prioritizing: Giving all of your time to what seems urgent will leave you exhausted. Here’s how to know the difference between what is necessary and what is expendable. http://bit.ly/2qhjvYL

Check out Piper Jaffray's semi-annual Generation Z survey of more than 6,000 US teens http://bit.ly/2EDhgDq

Food, beauty and video games continue to dominate teen wallet.

Athletic cycle above historic average but streetwear cycle accelerates.

Teens opt for Snapchat and Instagram as Facebook engagement stabilizes.


GUEST POST

You know you got something to say: Looking for a place to share ideas, comment on business, tell a funny story, or provide expertise?

This is the place.

Send The Weekly 500 - 750 words on any topic that would benefit the Brigadoon community.

Please note, I do my best copy editing after I hit send. So, whatever you send me, I suggest you do a bang-up job on the spelling, grammar, and editing before you send it over. 

PRODUCTIVITY

"Never do meetings unless someone is writing a check." -- Mark Cuban

PODCAST

The Lefsetz Letter Podcast: Shirley Manson: Shirley is a Scottish musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, actress, and the lead vocalist of the alternative rock band Garbage. Only three Scottish women have sung a Bond theme so far – Lulu, Sheena Easton, and Shirley. She got her turn 1999 when Garbage was asked to record ‘The World Is Not Enough’ from the film of the same name. With more than 30 years in the business and countless hit records under her belt, Manson is a true rock legend. In this podcast hosted by Bob Lefsetz, this conversation is smart, complex, thoughtful, and engaged. An excellent discussion between two top professionals who have seen the highest highs and the lowest lows of the music business.

SONG

R.E.M. - Finest Worksong http://bit.ly/2GSxL0k

SPORT

FIFA looks for $25 billion, 12-year deal for new tournaments:AP reports, FIFA is planning to team up with Saudi Arabian, Chinese and American investors in a $25 billion, 12-year deal that could add two major international tournaments to an already crowded soccer calendar. With preparations for this year’s World Cup in Russia reaching a climax, FIFA President Gianni Infantino is looking to launch an expanded 24-team Club World Cup — played every four years starting in 2021 — and a separate global competition for national teams every two years.

The hockey community is leaving hockey sticks out for the Humboldt boys: LAT reports, many NHL teams paid tribute to the Humboldt Broncos junior ice hockey team, who lost 15 of its players and staff in a crash last week. But that still wasn't enough for many who play and watch the game. https://lat.ms/2Hc5OEi

Bananas vs. sports drinks? Bananas win in studyhttps://nyti.ms/2Ej2S35

In NBA, court and canvas are intertwined: NYT reports, NBA players have become art collectors, out of enthusiasm, as an investment and to have something to pass on to the next generation. https://nyti.ms/2HqfdFT

Dodgers to host 2020 MLB All-Star game.

Go back to school

Ross Rant March 2018.png

One of the best thought leader, low hanging fruit techniques is to get reconnected to your school - be it high school, college, or graduate. 

You need your schools.

Over the last few days, I have been down in Chapel Hill, North Carolina attending alumni weekend festivities for the Kenan-Flagler Business School. I was fortunate to be asked to speak with two marketing classes of current students on the intersection of the retail sector and public policy as well as lead a lecture on retail disruption for the alumni back on campus. You can see the decks here: retail politics and retail disruption.

Talking with students as they are about to embark on their careers is a fantastic opportunity. To answer their questions and share your experience I find to be a most wonderful exchange for all involved. Also, you need to be on your game as your audience has immediate access to the WWW to challenge your ideas in real-time, or worse, you are white noise as they tune you out, so they update their Pinterest pages.

Speaking with the alumni, be it 2017 MBA graduates not even 365 days out of college, or older students who departed the school in the 80s, 70s, and even 60s can't be beaten as a venue to present your ideas. This type of cross-generation audience fosters an exchange of experience and knowledge that is a challenge to replicate on a daily workday.

As you think about upping your thought leadership game as a means to improve your experience and knowledge, think about going back to school. Reach out to that alumni director, speak with a former teacher, or find conference taking place on campus.

The ability to share ideas, speak with students, engage alumni from decades past in a safe and friendly environment is a powerful tool that will help you expand your thought leader capabilities. 

Walkabout, Homaro Cantu, WIP, Steal, Zen

The Weekly Brigadoon.png

Walkabout, Homaro Cantu, WIP, Steal, Zen

The Weekly | Brigadoon
April 7, 2018
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia

The Weekly  = Enterprise + Culture + Sport + Policy

Subscribe here: http://thebrigadoon.com/subscribe/


ROSS RANT

Make that walkabout a priority; your imagination will thank you

Made famous in the United States by famed Australian philosopher Crocodile Dundee, a walkabout is a journey through the wilderness of one's choosing to satisfy an itch, a desire to be elsewhere, the craving for the open road, or to engage the space over the horizon.

A walkabout can be a simple bike ride to your local art museum or possibly a more adventurous cross-continental journey to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. A walkabout can be joining the local historical society or taking a gap year to teach economics in Canada.

Regardless of the distance traveled or the actions taken, your imagination will thank you for the change of scenery. The brain gets too comfortable in your everyday surroundings. Same morning routine. Same office commute. Same weekly meetings. Same quarterly reports. Same yearly industry conference. Sameness overload. 

This sameness can suppress your ability to generate new ideas.

Without generating new ideas, you become a manager and not a leader.

Changing up the pace, the people, the poetry can have profound results. From developing new skills and insights, but more importantly, your ability to generate new ideas.

You are a mashup of what you let into your life - friends, meals, music, books, art, lectures, movies, experiences, etc.

Every new idea is a mashup of one or more previous ideas. Without developing new ideas, the mashup process stalls.

So make time for that walkabout. Big or small, your imagination will thank you.

“I have stared long enough at the glowing flat rectangles of computer screens. Let us give more time for doing things in the real world . . . plant a plant, walk the dogs, read a real book, go to the opera.” -- Edward R. Tufte

FIVE ARTICLES TO READ

Making sense of non-public Blockchains http://bit.ly/2H5wmES

NASA is trying to build a supersonic aircraft without the boom http://bit.ly/2qd9FXl

The life and death of Homaro Cantu, the genius chef who wanted to change the world: Guardian reports, how a homeless child grew up to become the most inventive chef in history. http://bit.ly/2uSkVh5

Double double trouble? Tim Hortons plummets in ranking of Canadian brands: CBC reports, a public spat with some of its franchisees and outrage over its response to minimum wage hikes seems to have made a dent in Canadians' much-publicized love for Tim Hortons this year, as the iconic coffee and doughnut chain has plummeted on an annual ranking of brands by market research firm Leger. http://bit.ly/2Etewsl

Four key lessons in entrepreneurship from hip-hophttp://bit.ly/2Ep6Bwl

1. They just start
2. The tools are practically free
3. Make language your leverage
4. Everything’s a WIP (work in progress) 


GUEST POST

You know you got something to say: Looking for a place to share ideas, comment on business, tell a funny story, or provide expertise?

This is the place.

Send The Weekly 500 - 750 words on any topic that would benefit the Brigadoon community.

Please note, I do my best copy editing after I hit send. So, whatever you send me, I suggest you do a bang-up job on the spelling, grammar, and editing before you send it over. 

PRODUCTIVITY

@ThisIsSethsBlog: Words on slides http://tinyurl.com/ya9vm2j6

GEAR

Far Ride magazine: A quarterly advertisement-free publication printed in Seoul, South Korea focused on the exploration of cycling related journeys around the world aimed at putting you on your saddle more. http://farridemag.com/ 

BOOK

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative: One of my go-to books for inspiration, innovation, and imagination. 

Written by Austin Kleon, a great reminder to all of us, you don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. Written as a manifesto for the digital age, the book is a guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises, and filled with new truths about creativity: Nothing is original, so embrace influence, collect ideas, and remix and re-imagine to discover your own path. Follow your interests wherever they take you. Stay smart, stay out of debt, and risk being boring—the creative you will need to make room to be wild and daring in your imagination.

DOCUMENTARY

The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling: HBO is running this four-and-a-half-hour documentary about the iconic comedian. Developed by Judd Apatow, the documentary features conversations with more than 40 of Shandling’s family and friends, and four decades’ worth of TV appearances, along with personal journals, private letters and candid home audio and video footage that reveal his brilliant mind and restless soul. Apatow’s documentary not only chronicles one man’s ability to survive the ups and downs of a life in show business but also offers a profound investigation into the power of comedy to elevate the human spirit.

SONGS

Brigadoon Sundance playlist on Google Music. You can listen here.

SPORT

Sebastian Steudtner big wave surfing at Nazare, Portugal: Watch this http://bit.ly/2H8niyI

How to survive in the Premier League: FT reports, a season tracking the highs and lows of Swansea City as they battle to avoid relegation. https://on.ft.com/2GGHYNp

WSJ - Jason Gay: My Masters is Paris-Roubaix. Golf is fun, but on Sunday morning, cycling offers a rock fight for the ages https://on.wsj.com/2HaChs0

Make that walkabout a priority; your imagination will thank you

Walkabout.png

Made famous in the United States by famed Australian philosopher Crocodile Dundee, a walkabout is a journey through the wilderness of one's choosing to satisfy an itch, a desire to be elsewhere, the craving for the open road, or to engage the space over the horizon.

A walkabout can be a simple bike ride to your local art museum or possibly a more adventurous cross-continental journey to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. A walkabout can be joining the local historical society or taking a gap year to teach economics in Canada.

Regardless of the distance traveled or the actions taken, your imagination will thank you for the change of scenery. The brain gets too comfortable in your everyday surroundings. Same morning routine. Same office commute. Same weekly meetings. Same quarterly reports. Same yearly industry conference. Sameness overload. 

This sameness can suppress your ability to generate new ideas.

Without generating new ideas, you become a manager and not a leader.

Changing up the pace, the people, the poetry can have profound results. From developing new skills and insights, but more importantly, your ability to generate new ideas.

You are a mashup of what you let into your life - friends, meals, music, books, art, lectures, movies, experiences, etc.

Every new idea is a mashup of one or more previous ideas. Without developing new ideas, the mashup process stalls.

So make time for that walkabout. Big or small, your imagination will thank you.

-Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross is the founder of Brigadoon and specializes in developing winning communications, content, connections, and commerce for entrepreneurs and thought leaders.

Morning Consult - Marc A. Ross OpEd: Sure, China Is a Competitor, but It’s Also a Market

Morning-Consult-logo.png

April 5, 2018

Much of the press coverage on the current state of U.S.-China commercial relations is focused on competition, and not enough on the market for American goods and services.

China as a competitor has been dominating press headlines for years. Candidates seeking high office in the United States have been informing voters that China plays unfair, doing business there makes little sense and the only solution is tough action. Numerous political columnists use China to score easy points and advance one-sided protectionist remedies.

Years of one-sided opinion is having a negative impact on U.S.-China commercial relations and is fostering a tit-for-tat retaliatory tariff environment.

In the United States, Pew Research reports negative views of China have increased by 26 percentage points between 2006 and 2016. And American negativity towards China has been higher than Chinese negativity toward the United States in every year since 2014.

A January 2017 Pew Research survey of Americans found that 65 percent of respondents said China is either an adversary (22 percent) or a serious problem (43 percent), while only about a third (31 percent) said China is not an issue.

And in a separate Spring 2016 survey by Pew Research, a majority (55 percent) of Americans held an unfavorable opinion of what more and more Americans see as our most significant Asian rival.

This hostile environment is the public affairs reality that American business is facing right now.

Many Americans now see China, one of our most significant and most promising markets, as a loser for US business. Unfortunately, this belief is fertile ground for politicians supporting protectionist policies and trade halting tariffs. Actions that if successfully passed would force Beijing to respond with retaliatory trade tactics including increased limits stifling full access to the growing Chinese consumer marketplace for American goods and services.

It is time for those that care about a productive and engaged US-China commercial relationship to take these polls seriously and engage Americans in Main Street coffee shops and at picnic tables during backyard BBQs.

For far too long American business has relied on a model dependent on high-level government relationships with support from the White House and corresponding federal agencies to manage the U.S.-China relationship.

This model is exhausted and broken.

The Congressional Research Service reports total U.S.-China merchandise trade rose from $2 billion in 1979 (when China’s economic reforms began) to $636 billion in 2017. China is currently the United States’ largest merchandise trading partner and our third-largest export market behind Canada and Mexico, our neighbors and NAFTA partners.

According to the U.S. State Department, American companies exported $135 billion in goods to China in 2017. Exports sourced, developed and packaged from across the nation.

Thirty states experienced at least triple-digit goods export growth to China since 2006, and four states saw an increase of more than 500 percent over the same period: Alabama, Montana, North Dakota, and South Carolina per the U.S.-China Business Council’s State Export Report. USCBS concludes every U.S. state has experienced triple-digit services export growth to China since 2006, with 16 states enjoying the export growth of more than 400 percent.

At a grassroots level, it is critical to remind Americans that U.S. goods and services exported to China come from a wide range of industries. Goods such as transportation equipment, agriculture products, computers and electronics, and chemicals. These exports also sustain logistics jobs in America’s ports and warehouses throughout the country.  Also, U.S. services exports come from the travel, education, and transportation sectors as well as professional business and financial services.

Leaders of American business need to play a more decisive role in reversing this trend and ensuring American goods and services reach the ever-expanding Chinese marketplace. Sitting on the sidelines will be too detrimental for America’s economic security.

Marc A. Ross is the founder of Brigadoon and specializes in developing winning communications, content, connections, and commerce for entrepreneurs and thought leaders.

Fifty Mission Cap, War on Clutter, Social Media, Growth Marketing

The Weekly Brigadoon.png

Fifty Mission Cap, War on Clutter, Social Media, Growth Marketing

The Weekly | Brigadoon
March 31, 2018
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia

The Weekly  = Enterprise + Culture + Sport + Policy

Subscribe here: http://thebrigadoon.com/subscribe/


ROSS RANT

Take the time to get your 50 mission cap

A fifty mission cap was a stiff cloth cap with a visor issued to Allied bomber pilots in World War II when they had completed fifty missions. 

After fifty missions, the pilots were known to weather and beat their cap into a more rugged and worn look. Cheating death and pushing the envelope makes one want to display a roughness and not wear a stiffer and newly issued flight cap.  

These worn and personalized hats obviously made these pilots more identifiable and therefore more respected by the rookies. 

The cap was thus a status symbol.

A symbol that you had the knowledge.

A symbol that you had the experience.

A symbol that you had the professionalism.

Junior pilots were known to work in their caps to look like a fifty mission cap. They too wanted to appear that they had more than they did.

Sure you may have the cap, you can work it in to look like that, but that doesn't mean you have the knowledge, experience, and professionalism.

Not all us can have a fifty mission cap for the simple reason such a cap requires, time, experience, and commitment.

Most of us want the cap as soon as possible.

But why?

The journey is needed. 

Most overnight successes take decades. Most artistry is gained by failure. Most skills are gathered by doing the reps.

Sure the journey has stress. Sure the journey has unknowns. Sure the journey has complications.

But at the end, you're a different person. You get the fifty mission cap. You earned it.

The journey takes you beyond, propels you to achieve more, and contribute to others along the way. 

The journey is needed.

The challenge as entrepreneurs and thought leaders is to find a journey worthy of your heart and your soul.

That's when you want to put the cap on.

FIVE ARTICLES TO READ

40 years into the war on clutter, and we’re still overwhelmed by stuff. What’s going on? It’s hard to put a start date on America’s War on Clutter, but you could trace it to 1978, when the first Container Store opened in a 1,600-square-foot space in Dallas, or to 1985, when a few professional organizers from California saw gold in people’s junk and started a trade association that today counts about 3,400 members. But despite an industry that’s grown so massive it’s become its own form of clutter — with books, and experts, and storage containers, and apps, and YouTube videos — we’ve made so little progress that even the professional organizers aren’t pretending the problem has been solved — or even that it’s solvable. https://goo.gl/32jgJE

Can social media be saved? Kevin Rose opines in the NYT, they exploit our data and make us unhappy. They spread misinformation and undermine democracy. Our columnist asks if salvation is possible for social networks. https://goo.gl/xHttAC

Fast Company: The future of parking garages doesn’t involve cars at all: In London, a disused garage is being partially converted into studios, restaurants, and more. https://goo.gl/1rL3kz

This is old news - This was discussed at Brigadoon Sundance 2018!

HBR: How being a workaholic differs from working long hours — and why that matters for your health https://goo.gl/e5FJDX

WP: Mindfulness meditation is huge, but science isn’t sure how, or whether, it works https://wapo.st/2pyFvOm

GUEST POST

You know you got something to say: Looking for a place to share ideas, comment on business, tell a funny story, or provide expertise?

This is the place.

Send The Weekly 500 - 750 words on any topic that would benefit the Brigadoon community.

Please note, I do my best copy editing after I hit send. So, whatever you send me, I suggest you do a bang-up job on the spelling, grammar, and editing before you send it over. 

GEAR

Business name generator: Namelix will generate a short, brandable business name using artificial intelligence. https://namelix.com/

PODCAST

This Week in Startups - Rachel Hepworth: Rachel is the head of growth marketing at Slack. In this podcast, she breaks down how startups should “go to market and grow”  and speaks with participants at Founder University.

SONG

The Tragically Hip - Fifty-Mission Cap https://goo.gl/Fofd4R

DRINK

The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company (Philadelphia) https://goo.gl/12kJof

SPORT

The origins of all 30 MLB team names https://goo.gl/jrJaAm

How Loyola used information and skill — not luck — to reach the Final Four https://goo.gl/f5RBgH

Take the time to get your 50 mission cap

Ross Rant March 2018.png

A fifty mission cap was a stiff cloth cap with a visor issued to Allied bomber pilots in World War II when they had completed fifty missions. 

After fifty missions, the pilots were known to weather and beat their cap into a more rugged and worn look. Cheating death and pushing the envelope makes one want to display a roughness and not wear a stiffer and newly issued flight cap.  

These worn and personalized hats obviously made these pilots more identifiable and therefore more respected by the rookies. 

The cap was thus a status symbol.

A symbol that you had the knowledge.

A symbol that you had the experience.

A symbol that you had the professionalism.

Junior pilots were known to work in their caps to look like a fifty mission cap. They too wanted to appear that they had more than they did.

Sure you may have the cap, you can work it in to look like that, but that doesn't mean you have the knowledge, experience, and professionalism.

Not all us can have a fifty mission cap for the simple reason such a cap requires, time, experience, and commitment.

Most of us want the cap as soon as possible.

But why?

The journey is needed. 

Most overnight successes take decades. Most artistry is gained by failure. Most skills are gathered by doing the reps.

Sure the journey has stress. Sure the journey has unknowns. Sure the journey has complications.

But at the end, you're a different person. You get the fifty mission cap. You earned it.

The journey takes you beyond, propels you to achieve more, and contribute to others along the way. 

The journey is needed.

The challenge as entrepreneurs and thought leaders is to find a journey worthy of your heart and your soul.

That's when you want to put the cap on.

-Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross is the founder of Brigadoon and specializes in developing winning communications, content, connections, and commerce for entrepreneurs and thought leaders.

Enter techman

Economist031618.jpg

As Beijing emphasizes the need to wean China off foreign technology, and as China moves up the technology ladder to become a “cyber power” in its own right - expect more friction.

Some experts even go so far to describe the current state of US-China commercial relations as a Cold War.

Recent tit-for-tat trade actions will deepen what has become a global contest for technological dominance between the United States and China.

Plus, the Trump administration is expecting lots more investment by Beijing in semiconductors and acquisitions of international technology companies by Chinese companies.

State capitalism vs. market capitialism.

How do you power a nation's economy? Do you build it? Do you borrow it? Do you buy it?

Sleep with one eye open. We're off to a new never-never-land.

There is a silver lining to all this. 

We are witnessing national economic development in real-time and will have the answer within a generation.

-Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross is the founder of Brigadoon and specializes in developing winning communications, content, connections, and commerce for entrepreneurs and thought leaders.

POTD: A16z Podcast: Creating A Category, From Pricing To Positioning

Microphone.png

What do Klennex, FedEx, and Coke all have in common?

All three products are now universally used to describe a whole suite of competing and secondary products or services.

Kleenex is the word for numerous paper-tissue products.

FedEx is the word to for all overnight delivery.

Coke is the word for hundreds of soft drinks available.

Simply put, don't copy, create. 

It is better to create a new category where you can set price than try and improve a category where the price has already been established.

Creation means there is less competition and more riches to be had.

In this episode of the a16z podcast, general partner Martin Casado, who helped create the category of “software-defined networking” and Michel Feaster, CEO and co-founder of Usermind, who previously defined the category and discipline of “technology business management,” share their insights, in conversation with Sonal Chokshi. 

Category creation is all about creating a net new problem and a net new solution to that problem. This matters because if you create a category, you can set the price, the market size, and set the buying environment.

Of course, this isn't easy. You are asking customers to say yes to something that is new, possibly unproven, not trusted, or well known in the marketplace.

Speakers in this podcast suggest, "it isn’t just about making a dent in the way companies work and changing what people do every day… it’s about setting the price. And with that, comes creating the concept in people’s heads, defining the value, and setting the rules of the game."

As Henry Ford said, "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses."

Sometimes you need to create and lead.

For me, I find pricing to be the biggest challenge of running my business. And frankly, I have done a horrible job. From underpricing service offerings and products due to lack of confidence, knowledge, and experience. Coupled with working in categories with well-established rules and competitors selling "Kleenex, FedEd, and Coke."

When it comes to pricing so far, I have made every mistake.

From these failures, thankfully I have acquired new knowledge. I am firmly committed to the idea that setting the price point is vital because I want to guide the customer to what is good and what is bad. I want to control the customer from having the ability to make a comparison. I create the category. 

Simply put, being an entrepreneur and thought leader.

To do this, you need to execute these two things: First, you have to create the concept in the customer's brain - you need to get the customer to think about the problem and realize you have the solution. Second, you need to set the value by setting the price.

Creating an environment where the customer sees the world differently, recognizing there is a problem, and leading them to your tool to solve this irritation. That's the winning sales cycle.

Think like a storyteller and use narrative: Frame the problem, then make it top of mind, and finally set the value (price) to fix the problem.

Reinforcing with the marketplace that your differentiator is the right way to go - how you solve this problem is unique, better, and different and your unique, better, and different is defensible against the competition. 

Ultimately you want to create a buying environment where the customer sees you as the only solution to the problem, and there are compelling reasons why it is you.

When you realize business is a long game, and you can build a model that lets you survive long enough, coupled with teasing apart the signals from your first customers, and finally nailing some key moves early by setting the buying requirements… you can win.