Copyright, Copyright, Copyright

We here at Photo Business News encourage people to recognize the value of their copyright. These days, more and more people are crying that copyright shouldn't exist, or that people should be free to mash-up your work without your permission. In other words - once you put your work out for public consumption, the public owns it and can do what they want with it.

Uh, no.

Going into court is a painful process. It's always easier for both parties to come to a settlement, and not have to wade into the morass of Federal court. Unfortunately, though, thieves, often empowered by a belief that they can outspend and wait-out an artist whose work they stole, will fight until the bitter end. Then, you have judges, who can understand, say, Disney's claims of lost income when they are infringed, but consider a photographer who had his work infringed as getting some sort of windfall they otherwise wouldn't have received or certainly aren't entitled to, when some Fortune 500 company steals or misuses their work, and, as such, gives them some minuscule award of damages.

Yet, the fight must go on. It is, simply, a fight for what is right. Sometimes, fighting for what is right isn't easy.

Back in April of this year, Photo Attorney Carolyn Wright began a "Diary" of a copyright infringement, that's worth having a read - if for no other reason than to see the minutia that is involved.

So, I commend you to read the series.

- Diary of a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit – 1

- Diary of a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit – 2

- Diary of a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit – 2a

- Diary of a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit – 3

- Diary of a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit – 4


One of the most important things about a copyright infringement that you're dealing with, is to be very careful about how and when you might contact the infringer, and what you might say.

Whatever you write in your emails will become a part of the evidence against you, if, for example, you demand $500 and then later, after learning more about the breadth of the infringement, you demand $50,000, your $500 email will cost you.

Most attorneys will talk to you for 5-15 minutes about your case, generally, before beginning to charge you. Most will give you general information, listen to the specifics of your case, and talk about possibilities and probabilities. At the point that they formally start giving you "advice" is when they'll start charging you. Understand, though, they are also trying to decide if they will take you on as a client.

Most importantly, make sure the lawyer you contact knows copyright. Disastrous mistakes get made when you hire a lawyer who isn't specialized in copyright.

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Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

Conscious listening

My short TED talk on conscious listening went up on the TED website on Friday July 29 – one of the first from TEDGlobal in Edinburgh, and my third talk on ted.com. I'm honoured, and the reaction to this talk has been wonderful already, as I write just a day later. Views on TED's site are at around 70,000 in just 24 hours (which means double that on the web as a whole) and I have had a lot of great connections from teachers, psychologists, academics and businesspeople who are going to use the five exercises and support the vision of teaching listening in schools.

Here's the talk. Please take a look (and a listen) and pass it on if it resonates with you. The practice of conscious listening will make a real difference in the world.

http://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_5_ways_to_listen_better.html

Posted via email from Julian Treasure's posterous

Important Import Export Business Resource

Just a quick reminder to advise you about the links to the 5 1/2 years of archive posts in this blog - IMPORTANT posts with IMPORTANT information you need if you are involved or considering getting involved in the import and/or export busines - links to the archived posts are located on the lower right side of this blog page - check them out - real world information and experience.

Don't ever say I don't tell you about incredibly valuable FREE international trade resources - this is one of the BEST!

The USITC’s "The Year in Trade 2010" is 234 pages of the U.S. government’s most comprehensive reports of U.S. trade-related activities. This is an OUTSTANDING international trade resource for anyone working in or covering the field of international trade (or considering entry into this field of endeavor) or covering major multilateral, regional, and bilateral trade developments. (OH, by the way, you guys and gals outside the USA, yes, you can get it too, just keep reading).

This incredible electronic publication reviews U.S. international trade laws and actions under these laws, U.S. free trade agreements and negotiations and U.S. bilateral trade relations with major trading partners activities of the World Trade Organization [WTO].

"The Year in Trade 2010" provides you with complete listings of countervailing duty, safeguard, antidumping, intellectual property rights infringement, and section 301 cases undertaken by the U.S. government in 2009. In addition, the 2010 report also covers:

The report provides an overview of USA trade in goods and services during 2010.

Statistical tables highlighting U.S. bilateral trade with all major USA trading partners and trade under USA trade preference programs.

The operations of USA's trade preference programs, including the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, the Andean Trade Preference Act, and the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act

significant activities in the WTO, including its dispute settlement mechanism, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

The negotiation of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

Developments in the USA free trade agreements, including activities under the NAFTA and negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Discussion of bilateral trade issues with major U.S. trading partners, including the European Union, India, China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Canada, Brazil, Mexico and Russia.

Your copy of the USITC's report is awaiting you to download it now AT NO COST at:

http://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/pub4247.pdf


Ron Coble
B2B Marketing Lists
International Business and Trade Help Center

The Four Golden Rules of Sound

Whenever sound is deployed in a commercial space, I recommend that it should always be created in accordance with the following four Golden Rules of commercial sound.

 1. Make it optional
The backlash against piped music (with consumer groups like PipeDown to the fore) is partly fuelled by the resentment that arises from being given no choice. Research shows that people’s irritation with noise increases dramatically when they have no control over the sound source. It follows that we must try to give people a choice about any sound we inflict on them.

 On the web, this means starting with sound off and offering it as an option (with an omnipresent control to toggle sound on/off). Obviously it's more difficult to make sound optional in a physical space – though not impossible. A range of rooms or spaces with different soundscapes is one practical solution, as educational establishments with silent reading rooms have long understood. If we can’t offer soundscape options that way, the next best thing is to target sound as carefully as possible, so that we upset the smallest number of people. For spaces with a very tight demographic and psychographic user profile, this is not too difficult. Some shops, bars, clubs and restaurants know exactly who their customers are and what they like; in many cases the sound (usually music) acts as a filter, attracting the ‘right’ people and warning the ‘wrong’ ones to go elsewhere because this is not for them. Buddha Bar and Abercrombie & Fitch are two good examples.

 This approach can work in more generalist spaces if music is used as part of an overall zoning policy. For example in a large mall there might be zones for younger and older customers, and sound or music could be a form of signposting to help nudge people in the right direction.

 The problems arise for generalist spaces that can’t or won’t operate this kind of zoning. One person’s signal is another person’s noise, and nowhere is this truer than with broadcast sound in public. Whatever you play in a mass-market space, you will upset someone. I strongly suggest two actions. First, err on the side of caution: it’s better to inject no sound that the wrong sound. There is nothing at all wrong with the sound of people shopping! Second, research carefully before you deploy. Do not assume that your customers will naturally love smooth jazz and r&b classics, because they just might loathe them. Use focus groups to ascertain attitudes, and create pilot sites where you run proper quantitative tests that measure the effect of the soundscape on people’s behaviour (see Golden Rule 4).

 2. Make it congruent
Music is not the only (or even the best) type of sound to deploy in commercial spaces. After all, it is made with the strong intention of being listened to, so when it's played in the background there is a conflict of interest. The visual equivalent would be covering every inch of your walls with works of art. 

Intention is very important with sound, so start with silence. It's a much-underrated sound, and it may just be your ideal soundscape. One step up from silence is generative sound. These soundscapes are made with the intention of being aural wallpaper, so they may create a more harmonious environment than music. Our own Ambifier™ system delivers exactly this kind of sound. Only with good reason (such as the filtering mentioned above) should you go to the next level and choose music, at which point please seek professional advice to style it and deliver it legally. Whatever you do, try to avoid repetition, for the sanity of your staff if no other reason. Three CDs in a shop for a year is a recipe for stress. A playlist should contain at least double the volume required for the time to be filled, ideally three times, so that you won't hear a song twice in any time slot, whether it's a full day or your two-hour peak time evening segment.

 Please, please do invest in a sound delivery system that matches the quality of the rest of your branding. Don’t leave loudspeaker and amplifier choice to IT, M&E or facilities people! Your sound delivery system is a vital part of your brand experience. Take an interest; choose quality; and avoid hotspots by creating good coverage with decent speakers – which means avoiding systems that have a separate subwoofer. That may work at home, but in a commercial space it create nasty variation in the sound, including pools of strong bass for anyone unlucky enough to be standing under the woofer.

 Once you’ve defined what sound would work best for your brand and worked out the most effective way for its application, you will have no trouble in making sure that all the sound you inject into your spaces resonates with your own organisation, brand, products, values, image, practices and so on. The first test of congruency (aka appropriateness) is to ask: is this sound right for us? You should be able to close your eyes in any branded space and know where you are.

 The second, of course, is to ask: is this sound right for its context? This is where we consider environment (including acoustics, noise sources and intrusive noise); the people in the space (psychographics, demographics, tastes and fashions); the function of the space (for example if conversation or thinking are key, music is probably not the best choice). Whatever we design must fit all of these factors. Often that means changing the sound through the day. At The Sound Agency we generally recommend a converging strategy: playing calming sound when places are busy, and stimulating sound when they are emptier. If you can afford autogain to automatically maintain the perfect headroom over ambient noise levels, use it. Inappropriate volume is one of the commonest sins with commercial sound, and it loses sales.

 3. Make it valuable
There are far too many commercial spaces playing music because they do it next door. I suspect that the world would sound rather different if they all asked the question: how can our sound add value to our customers?

 Sound can be hugely valuable. It can warn us of danger (smoke alarms); it can inform us of events or of opportunities (radio news; in-store announcements of special offers); it can reduce the boredom of mundane tasks (music in factories); it can entertain, move and inspire us (music in films); it can guide us (zoning; travel announcements); most of all, it’s our primary connection with other humans (conversation).

 When designing your soundscape, start by going into the space, closing your eyes and listening. Ask yourself, how can our sound add value to our customers? That question may lead you to start by removing some noisemakers or installing acoustic treatments to reduce reverberation time and create a calmer ambience.

Once you're happy the environment is optimal, ask: what extra sound will add value to our customers? If you can't answer, silence is golden. And remember, perking up bored staff is not a reason to inflict pumping music on your customers, who may need just the opposite. That’s why it’s usually a bad idea to let you staff play their own choice of music: their interests are very different from those of the customers. Fast music entrains people to move more quickly – and leave more quickly. If you do believe that music is the solution, follow the tips above to make sure you get music that's congruent as well as effective and valuable.
 
4. Test it and test it again
When it comes to measuring the effects of sound, it’s what people do that matters, not what they say. This is particularly true when the sound in question is music, because everybody has an opinion about music. In designing soundscapes, we can use both qualitative and quantitative research. Focus groups of customers (or, for larger audiences, customer segments) help us understand what sounds they like, and what they dislike. Auditory ‘mood boards’ and specific sounds and music tracks can be used as stimulus material. Then we can survey large samples with traditional questions or small samples with neurological and physiological measures to check the psycho-physiological effects (what psychologists call 'affect'). In large group research, the questions should be focused on measuring what we’re actually interested in – for example brand affinity, emotional state, general satisfaction or purchasing intentions – and not on what people think about the sound. What people say they like and how they behave due to sound are two very different things.

 Once we have designed a soundscape or playlist, we can test the effects by alternating our proposed soundscape with no sound, or the old soundscape, again by measuring the differences in KPIs such as sales, dwell time, footfall, brand affinity and customer satisfaction, not asking people if they like it.

 These rules might appear obvious, but it is surprising how many businesses fail to observe them in their application of sound, damaging their brands and revenues in the process. 

Posted via email from Julian Treasure's posterous

Business School with a Family

Early on in 2009, my wife gave birth to our second child. As I held my daughter for the first time, a mix of emotions came over me. On one hand, I was as happy as could be. The Lord had already blessed me with a son, and now He was blessing me again with a beautiful little girl. But on the other hand, I felt a tremendous sense of nervousness. You see, the day before my daughter’s birth, I found out that I had been admitted to HBS. As exciting as getting that news was, it brought with it a guarantee of large scale, disruptive change for not just me, but for my family as well. Up until that point, the change had all been hypothetical; now it was more or less set in stone. Roughly seven months after my daughter’s birthday, I would be transitioning from the active duty Army, moving my now family of four to a new city where we knew no one, enrolling my son in a new school, going from generating an income to living off of student loans and starting a full-time graduate school program while my wife stayed home with our daughter. As I gazed into my daughter’s eyes, the gravity of my decision to pursue an MBA after the military and the effect it would have on my family hit me like a ton of bricks.

I suspect that this feeling of nervousness is common among many of you who have or who will soon have families – and rightfully so. But after graduating from HBS this past May, I can say that the two-years at business school were two very enjoyable years for both my family and me. Many of my friends (both students and spouses) will also tell you that they too thoroughly enjoyed their time at business school. Financially, everything worked out just fine (see my previous post on financing your MBA), I had a lot more time to spend at home than when I was on active duty, and my wife and I were ultimately happy with the decision we made. So was all that worrying and nervousness for naught? I would say unequivocally “no”. It certainly guided us in preparing for the transition. That said, we could have most certainly done things better along the way – beginning in the pre-matriculation period – that would have made our lives easier and somewhat more enjoyable. Below are a few of my lessons learned for making business school work with a family:

Before school:

  • Reach out to other new admits with families, especially if your school uses a section/cohort/cluster approach to the first year. In most top-10 business schools, 5% or less of the incoming class will have children, and the all-consuming first year section experience will make getting to know parents outside your section exceedingly more difficult. And if your section is like mine and has only one student with children in it (me), not knowing anyone else in your class who shares that common bond with you can be problematic. Your school will likely set up a Facebook page for the new admits that should be a useful tool to help you identify other parents in the incoming class. Working on building those relationships before school will make those first few months all the more enjoyable for both you and your spouse.
  • If you’re considering putting your child(ren) in daycare or preschool, be sure to apply for those programs as early as possible. The good programs on or near your school’s campus will fill up very quickly. If you wait until you actually move to the area, or wait to do it a month or two prior, it will most certainly be too late. Even if you’re waitlisted, being #2 or 3 on the list is much better than being #22 or #23.
  • Join your school’s partners’ (a.k.a. spouse/significant other) club email listserv. In the time leading up to matriculation, emails will be sent regarding job openings at the university or in the community in which your spouse may be interested. They’ll also send links to welcome documents and other useful information guides that will help make your transition go more smoothly.

At school:

  • Once you get to school, really get involved with the partners’ and kids’ clubs. My wife and I were a bit lukewarm in our involvement early on and wish we hadn’t been. These clubs are a great way to meet and really get to know others in your class who are married with children. Depending on how active you were during the pre-matriculation period, you may have already corresponded with some of these individuals and can thus continue building even deeper relationships. Nevertheless, both clubs are very active and are always planning something (family activities, partner outings, play dates, etc.). Put simply, they are great resources for you and your family and I can’t say enough about them. Think of them as a family readiness group of sorts.
  • Treat business school like a job. I got better at this as time went on, but wish I had been more thoughtful about time management in the beginning because it really does make a world of difference. I’m convinced that the best way to be successful both at home and in the classroom is to treat business school like a job. You know your class schedule for the entire semester at the beginning of each semester and can (and should) therefore plan around it. I highly recommend devoting 30-45 minutes every Sunday night to mapping out your schedule for the next week. I used my Microsoft Outlook calendar, but any scheduling system will work. Start with blocking off time for family commitments and work your way down the priority ladder from there. But more importantly, stay committed to your schedule. Doing so will make your life easier and significantly less stressful. My guess is that you’ll be surprised at how much you can actually get done in a day if you’re thoughtful about and committed to your schedule. One caveat about being intentional with your time is that it does tend to remove spontaneity from your life. This is a tradeoff that you’ll have to make, especially in the fast-paced business school environment where it seems like there’s always something going on because there is always something going on.

Fortunately I’m not the first (and will surely not be the last) person to attend business school with a family in tow. The advice offered here only breaks the surface on how to make the two-year business school experience enjoyable for both you and your family. Reach out to alumni who started business school with families to learn how they prepared for and handled things once school actually began. Once at school, talk to classmates with families to learn their tactics for balancing school and home and strive to continually get better at it. With a little pre-planning, creativity, and commitment, I’m confident that you and your family will fondly look back on your MBA experience with tremendous satisfaction.

- Rob C., Guest Blogger and Co-Founder of MilitaryToBusiness: Consulting Service for Top Performers.

NPPA Workshops - The Business of Photography

Not only do we all know a colleague in our photographic community who could use some business counsel, but a refresher and new perspective on the business of photography could benefit you as well. To that end, the NPPA has put together an amazing day of workshops - the NPPA Business Blitz, which kicked of at the beginning of June in the DC area, and is now traveling the country.

How much? $10 ALL DAY (NPPA members) and $20 (non-NPPA members)

So, encourage your friends to go (send them a link to this) and let's get people focused on the business of being a photographer!

  • Register for Denver, August 8th - here
  • Register for St. Louis, September 29 - here
  • Register for San Jose, October 7 - here
  • Register for St. Petersburg, November 10 - here


Here's what was done in DC (each city varies a little):

9am - 10am - Keynote - Keynote: John Harrington- A Strategic Roadmap to Success: Avoiding Pitfalls and a Survey of Today's Landscape

Breakout sessions were offered throughout the day. Each of the following was offered in three time slots:
  • John Harrington: Real Business, Real Estimates, Real Life: Surviving and Thriving as a Working Professional
  • Allen Murabayashi: SEO and the Web
  • Chip Litherland: How I Learned From My Mistakes to Build a Successful Freelance Business
  • Garrett Hubbard: Shooting, Editing, and Maximizing Profitability for Video Storytelling
  • Craig Mitchelldyer: Lighting Session - Making Your Work Stand Out from the Crowd

6:30 pm - 7:30 pm - Keynote: Allen Murabayashi; Put More Business in Your Photo Business

Joining the program in Denver will be Ellen Jaskol, who not only has won 2 Pulitzer Prizes, but spent 17 at the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, and before that was at the Los Angeles Times. Since 2009 she's been the main photographer for the new magazine, Colorado View.

Also joining the program in Denver will be Matt Slaby, a photographer and founding member of LUCEO Images based in Denver.

Sponsored by the good people of Nikon and great thanks to the Nikon Professional Services team, as well as the geniuses behind Photoshelter.

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Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

What Legacy Media Can Learn from Eastman Kodak

What do you do when your industry is changing? What do you do when your innovations are fueling the changes? Those problems have plagued Eastman Kodak Co. for three decades and the company’s experience provides some lessons for those running legacy media businesses.

Eastman Kodak’s success began when it introduced the first effective camera for non-professionals in the late 19th century and in continual improvements to cameras and black and white and color films throughout the twentieth century. Its products became iconic global brands.

The company’s maintained its position through enviable research and development activities, which in 1975 created the first digital camera. Since that time it has amassed more than 1,100 patents involving electronic sensing, digital imaging, electronic photo processing, and digital printing. These developments, however, continually created innovations damaging to its core film-based business.

Digital photography created a strategic dilemma for the company. It could move into digital photography and destroy the highly profitable film-based business or it could exploit the film-based business while it slowly declined and then--when it was no longer profitable--try to leap out of the business into digital world. It was an ugly choice and the company chose the latter.

Today, the company has just 15% of the employees it once had and its stock prices are about 15% of what they were before it finally stripped out its production capacity and distribution systems. An enduring benefit of its research and development activities is that the company now owns patents on much of the underlying technology used in all digital cameras including those in mobile phones. It is building a new digital revenue stream on licenses and infringement payments for use of those technologies. Those alone now account for 10% of its turnover.

Eastman Kodak’s situation is not unlike that of legacy media firms, especially those in print, whose uses of digital technologies two decades before the arrival Internet and whose experiments with teletext and other telecommunication based information distribution systems foreshadowed the arrival of the Internet.

Today, newspapers and magazines—and increasingly broadcasters—are faced with dilemma of whether to keep exploiting their base legacy product or to dump the old business and jump fully into digital. It is as ugly a choice as that faced by Eastman Kodak in the 1980s and 1990s. So, what lessons can be learned from its experience?

1)      Don’t try to fight change

You may not like its direction and may understand how it will affect your current business, but you will not be able to stop its momentum and trajectory if it is beneficial to many customers. In such conditions you can only protect your existing product by making it as productive and competitive as possible, by adjusting its strategies to better serve those who are most loyal and resist change, and by carefully monitoring the pace of change and the investments you make in the existing product. Simultaneously, existing companies that want to benefit from the change need to be creating new products for the new markets and allow them to develop and mature with the pace of change even though they may be compounding the challenges in the pre-existing product.

2)      Don’t wait too long to change

Waiting to move into new markets with new products gives upstart companies and other competitors opportunities to become players with better products and larger market shares once you decide to enter. Although there are sometimes reasons not to be first movers, you should not wait too long because it is very difficult and expensive to enter and become a major player once a new market moves into its maturation phase.

3)      Be willing to sacrifice some short-term profit for long-term gain and sustainability

Careful strategic consideration must be given profits during transitional periods and managers needs to make the strategy clear to the company and its investors. It may be desirable to boost research and development costs even though there is no guarantee they may produce results; it may be necessary to harm the profits of the existing product by building up its replacement and cannibalizing some of its market; it may be appropriate to make investments in the new product that may not pay off in the short-term. Whatever the strategy, it should be the result of clear and deliberate choices and managers need to ensure that investors and entire company understand the reasons for it.

4)      Own the rights to technologies and services your competitors will employ

Use your R&D efforts and make strategic acquisitions to acquire the technologies and services that competitors will need to employ in the new market so they must turn to you and share the benefits of their growth. Unfortunately, few legacy media companies invested in research and development to early exploit opportunities in digital media by creating the underlying hardware and software for content control and distribution online and in phones, tablets, and computers. Thus, they own few intellectual property rights other than trademarks to their legacy media names and most are not benefiting as Eastman Kodak from patents being used by those eroding the business base. However, the new products still need content products and content management services that legacy media have long produced and companies need to be open to cooperating with the new competitors rather than giving them incentives to go elsewhere or to develop their own content capabilities.

These are turbulent times for legacy media and they require making choices and positioning firms for the future. It is no time for timidity or keeping on with business as usual.

The Sound of Brands

All businesses are making sound; most just aren’t controlling it – and the effects of this random noise are lost sales, undermined brands and lost customers.
 
Well over a thousand billion dollars are spent worldwide every year on how brands look: the brand books describing visual identities can be as thick as telephone directories for the world’s most famous and complex brands. They are intended to cover every possible aspect of branding… so it’s strange that I have had the following conversation many times:
 
Me: “Do you have a brand book?”
Marketing director: “Yes, of course we have a brand book.”
Me: “How many pages are about sound?”
Marketing director: “Er, none.”
 
Sound is probably the last great unexplored country for the marketing profession. Sound branding is a virtually virgin territory, rich with resources, that’s been behind us the whole time. Of course, sound is not the only sense we’ve been ignoring. The other two primary senses (smell and taste) and the range of touch, or haptic, senses (pressure, texture, temperature, balance and so on) are important too. Using the traditional Aristotelian five-sense model (sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste), marketing guru Martin Lindstrom proposes ‘5D branding’ in his book BRANDsense. His extensive research showed that less than 10 per cent of the world’s top brands have a sensory branding platform (though this is forecast to increase to 35 per cent within five years).
 
I fully support the 5D approach, and commend Martin’s book to every marketer. However, sight and hearing must be considered the twin major senses for two reasons. First, they can both carry specific messages: we can say exactly what we want in either vision or sound. Smell, touch and taste can convey a large number of moods, feelings and ambiences, but not many specific messages. Second, sight and hearing can both be broadcast, and they are therefore the only two mass communication senses. So far, nobody has found a way of broadcasting smells or tastes.
 
We know that sound has four profound effects on people: physiological, psychological, cognitive and behavioural. The right sound can increase retail sales by up to 38% – but sound that’s incongruent with visual messaging will undermine impact by over 80%. From this perspective it’s clear that the marketing profession has always given too much weight to sight compared to sound. This may be because the mass communication media were sight-only (press and posters) for much of marketing’s formative history. It may also be that marketing’s whole strategic paradigm has been focused on the brand as promise (‘image’, a purely visual word); brand experience, which natural occurs in all five senses, is a relatively young discipline.
 
But as we know today, every brand is both a promise and an experience. Sound can play a major a role in both these aspects, though how major depends on the specific product, brand, market, territory and customer base. At its most potent, sound can make or break a brand. It must always be considered.

Posted via email from Julian Treasure's posterous

VIDEO: The Space Shuttle Legend You (Likely) Never Knew

Scott Andrews has been covering the NASA Shuttle since before it first launched. Photo Business News previously reported about Schoot in the run up to the he 2011 inauguration (here - Scott Andrews, Remote Cameras, and the Inauguration (1/17/09). When it came time to take a unique look at the last shuttle launch, Washington Times decided to take a look at Scott's coverage of the shuttle. Scott first worked for Nikon Professional Services, and currently works for Canon Professional Services, however he has always helped out all "brands" of photographers whenever he's been asked.

The Washington Times video is in two parts (Part 1 and Part 2) - check them both out!





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Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

Military versus MBA and private sector careers

A lot of people ask me questions like: Why did you decide to get out of the military? Now that you've made the transition, what do you think of your MBA experience? What about your private sector career path? How do you compare a military career to one that an MBA and a private sector career may offer?

The purpose of this article is quite ambitious... to provide some insights onto the last question: comparing a top military career to a high trajectory civilian one.

All of the questions I listed have complicated answers and are really separate from each other, despite having a similar theme. Among my peer group, people generally got out of the military for the following reasons:
  • Frustration with lack of meritocracy and lack of control over one's own career
  • The inability of the military to match job positions that actually make use of one's individual skills and desires
  • Being required to work for weak superiors
  • General frustration with unnecessary bureaucracy
Certainly some people got out for opportunities to make more money and not have to deploy away from one's family, but those were much less influential decision factors, at least among my peers. After all, low pay and deployments was something we knew we were signing up for. The list I put forward above however, were not, and what's worse, are largely self-inflicted by the military.

A much more comprehensive study on why some of the best military officers leave the service was conducted by a friend of mine at the Harvard Kennedy School and is available for download. It revealed that many military officers believed that top officers would stay in the service if the best officers got the best assignments, were promoted faster, had more opportunities for professional development (such as graduate school), and received pay for performance instead of time-in-service. This is a list that the private sector is fairly good at accommodating, which is why I believe so many leave for the private sector, not because of absolute pay levels or deployments.

Top performing officers who decide to stay in despite these challenges do so because of an unbelievable devotion to duty and to their troops, despite the realization that they could likely contribute in many more ways to the world by untapping their potential in the private sector. This type of leader who decides to stay in the military is rare, but fortunately there are some who do. Many don't however, and that perpetuates the cycle.

Comparing a top military career and a top civilian post-MBA career

So now let me get to the original question I am trying to address: comparing military and top MBA civilian careers. For the purpose of this comparison, let's make the following assumptions about the individual we are applying this to:
  1. If he/she stays in the military, he/she will be a top performer and is on track to achieve the pinnacle of all military positions as a field grade officer.
  2. If he/she gets out of the military, he/she will go to a top business school and enter a high trajectory civilian business career.
So before we begin to "compare" the military and a top post-MBA career trajectory, we have to first agree on what exactly we are comparing. We can compare all sorts of things, such as job satisfaction and financial compensation. We already know that for financial compensation, the military loses, so that is not a very insightful exercise. But what about job satisfaction? That is extremely difficult to measure in such broad context, and people will certainly disagree about how to measure job satisfaction.

So for my analysis, I decided to use a rough proxy for job satisfaction: responsibility. Responsibility is something which, though not a perfect proxy, can be more easily measured (how many people do you command? How many jobs do you influence? How much money do you manage? How much impact do you have on those you manage/command?). I also believe that for the go-getter personality I am conducting the analysis with in mind, he is highly motivated by the impact he can make in his life, and therefore responsibility is high on that list which drives job and overall life satisfaction. This does ignore other things like work-life balance, but we have to start somewhere in answering the question.

As I began to think of how I could explain my thoughts on the subject to somebody who is even outside of the military, I realized how complicated it would be, and decided to capture the essence in one graphic, which is posted below.


An explanation of some of what you see:
  • Job responsibility in the military is highly erratic. People who leave company command may wait in some cases 10 years before getting close to the level of responsibility they had before, even if they are the best performers in the entire military.
  • Job responsibility in the military, given the assumption of a highly successful career, while fluctuating, is still much more predictable than the private sector. The blue military line is fairly predictable until one hits 22+ years of service, whereas the private sector career begins to significantly diverge and be much more unpredictable within a few years after business school. The dotted lines in both cases represent the upper and lower limits of, say, 90% of the target audience.
  • Both the military (blue) and civilian (black) lines lead to similar highs and lows (in terms of responsibility) at the end of one's career. Whether one is running an entire military branch of service, or overseeing a company that employes 400,000 people and drives global innovation, both have very very high levels of responsibility.
What else can we see from this graph? We can clearly understand why people get out of the military when they do; either after their initial 4-5 year commitment or after approximately 8 years. Once somebody makes the commitment to go past 10 years, it doesn't make as much sense to leave at say, 12, 14, or 15, especially given guaranteed pension at 20 years:


Career Abyss: Losing responsibility with time

Another surprise that most civilians have when seeing this graph is the concept of diminished responsibility for significant amounts of time in one's career despite peak performance and output. For example, a Lieutenant who is done with his platoon leader/command time, may have to wait another 3-4 years before being in a position of greater responsibility. If an officer is a Company Commander deployed overseas in his 7th year in the military, it can be argued that he will not have that same level of responsibility until he is a Battalion Commander, or at least an XO or S-3, which will be at least 6-8 years no matter what. However, if somebody leaves the military after Company Command, he will have to actually take a step down in responsibility post-MBA, and many will also have to wait another 6-8 years before being back at a similarly high level of responsibility. The transaction cost of leaving the military and starting an entirely new career can therefore be very daunting.

Another consideration, is that if that same officer is not deployed while in his Battalion level positions, it's possible that an officer will never again have as much truly impactful responsibility as when he was deployed as a Captain leading a company, even if he stayed and performed at the top of his abilities for another 30 years. These concepts are foreign to civilian counterparts, which typically expect a gradual accumulation of responsibility through one's career, though the idea is probably at least subconsciously understood my most military officers.

Another consequence reflected in this graph is the divergence of professional progress in the civilian sector versus the predictable and limited growth path afforded in the military. In other words, in the civilian career, one's path has a lot of flexibility associated with it, and to a much larger extent, is driven by one's performance and goals:

Aligning incentives

So people who will tend to ride along the upper red line have incentive to get out of the military, while people who will ride closer to the lower red line, have some incentive to stay in the military. This creates a perverse environment encouraging the best officers in the military to get out, as highlighted in the Kennedy School study. That is not to say that many top officers don't stay in the military, but those who do generally do so knowing that they sacrifice many career opportunities... though when it comes to the honor of leading troops, this can't fairly be compared.

In Summary
  • Military careers have extreme peaks and lows
  • Military officers have very little to no control when they can serve in the peaks, and are subject to some very long periods of lows
  • For some, the peaks make an entire career worth it
  • For others, they see potential to perform at a higher level when unbound from the bureaucratic, time-based promotion system of the military.
Some may trade the responsibility of managing 100,000 people in a private sector career for the honor of leading 12 in combat in the military. Unfortunately, the latter can only be done for a relatively very short time out of a long military career. Furthermore, in the private sector, one can rise in responsibility and contribute roughly proportional to one's performance and capability, which is not generally possible in the military (whether justified or not), therefore driving many top performers out.

There are many tradeoffs with both careers, and one can do a lot of good in both. The ideas in this article are well understood by many junior and mid-grade officers in the military (though I'm sure some would add a very different perspective). Some decide to stay in and some decide to get out... much of it depends on one's personality and priorities. It is important for junior officers however to understand some of these dynamics as they ask themselves the key question of whether or not they will stay in the military for a career or not.


Disclaimer: One things that is difficult to capture in this article is the different type of responsibility one can have in the military versus the private sector. For example, if a young team member is responsible for 4 lives in combat, that is certainly more responsibility than a manger who oversees 4 people in a shop. But how does that compare to a manger that is responsible for 500 employees working in a factory? What about 5,000? Or 50,000? Or a business person who makes decisions that affects billions of dollars in capital, and the livelihood and income of potentially thousands of people? In short, it's difficult to compare and different people will have very different views... but instead of not going through the exercise at all, I made some general assumptions and presented one point of view.

VIDEO: On Assignment - Family Fitness Magazine

From time to time, we have an opportunity to share with you assignments we've done. Here's one we did with fitness guru Denise Austin recently, for Family Fitness Magazine. Enjoy!
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The zen of coffee: master barista Brent Fortune interviewed at TEDGlobal

The State of the Stock Industry

The stock photography industry is in free fall, and the floor seems to be porous, whereby free isn't even the bottom. While photographers who control their rates using services such as PhotoShelter, with pricing models powered by the baseline of fotoQuote, are able to better withstand the demand for lower rates, by simply saying "no" when unreasonable offers are made, those who are at the whim of pricing models set by a conglomerate, are suffering.

It would be smart for organizations, like Getty, Corbis, and others who have the marketshare to allow photographers to use their services more as a portal, or conduit, while permitting those who use the portal to set the rates. A transaction fee similar to that paid to credit card companies who process transactions (2-4%) would suffice.

Betsy Reid has done a remarkable job of analyzing the state of the market, over at the Brittish Journal of Photography, here, and I highly recommend it for a thoughtful read!


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STOP Using Freelancers!

Once upon a time, news organizations had robust photo staffs that could cover the news of the day. These staffers were paid well, provided with gear, a retirement, and in turn, were loyal, and ethical, in their work. They also feared being fired for doing something wrong and so, in large part, they didn't. A staffer making $45k a year costs the organization, when all is included, between $250 and $300 a day. The AP, for example, when they pay a staffer $65k a year, and then adding in all their expenses ( office space, computers, cameras, car/mileage, 401k, health insurance, etc) comes to about $320 - $500 or so. It's no wonder they haven't replaced many staffers and are using freelancers when they cost only $200, and they get all the same rights from freelancers, as employees!

Staffers, of course, should do everything they can to discourage management from using freelancers, because, from a cost standpoint alone, the rise of the freelancer equates to the demise of the staffer - it's not like there's less news these days!

I understand that, from time to time, when there's a big news story in a region, temporary needs for freelancers arise. However, when an organization uses multiple freelancers daily, guess what? It's time to staff up! Heck, even union agreements (wherever they still exist) place limits on the frequency of freelance use for the very reason to protect staff positions.

Of course, news organizations, and the AP is just the most recent example, are suffering under the ethically challenged freelancers. Poynter did a good job of reporting on this here, and PDNPulse reported - Another Photo Manipulation Case Raises Question: Is the Penalty High Enough?, and PDN also reported on a Getty freelancer here - Photographer Cut by Getty for Altered Golf Photo Offers Explanation , and the BBC even reported about a freelancer for Reuters (here) who did the same thing.

Yes, there are organizations that need a photographer once a month or twice a year, and freelancers are good for that. Freelancers fit the bill in many instances. However, sending an ethically sound photographer on a plane trip to ensure the images are legitimate serves the long term best interests of news gathering organizations. Hoping you get good sound images from a freelancer you found from an internet search, or a friend of a friend of a friend, is no way to sustain the reputation of your news organization. I know budgets are tight, but with your organizations' reputation on the line as every freelance image moves over the wire, is it worth it?

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TEDGlobal: Ben Saunders, Arctic explorer

TEDGlobal: Justin Hall-Tipping on free energy for all!

Objections to ProtectIP Act - Silly Rabbit, Tricks are for Kids!

Oh, those law professors, living in their ivory towers and thinking their reality is the real world. Like Neo, their reality is so far removed from the real world that they know not of which they speak!

Engadget is reporting (here) that 100 or so lawyers have written members of Congress, as Engadget writes "under the bill being advocated for by the RIAA the MPAA, a judge can issue a temporary restraining order that will essentially shutdown a site based only on evidence presented by the government. " And, as such, the lawyers believe that when a site is shut down, even temporarily, it restricts free speech.

Au contrare. It restricts people from profiting from the theft of intellectual property of another.

There are many examples of property being restricted when its use is related to an alleged crime. Take the, ahem, John, who gets busted allegedly soliciting prostitution - in many jurisdictions, the punishment begins with the impounding of his car. It doesn't matter that he had other personal property in the car, the car and it's contents are impounded.

When a house gets raided, say, looking for drugs, things can get damaged, or impounded, during the course of that investigation, and, in some cases, the house may be sealed for a period of time.

Or, take the white collar (alleged) criminal, who may have committed a crime online, or have used his computer(s) to commit the crime. When the government raids his home, they impound his computer to look for evidence, and that evidence isn't often returned until after the trial, yet the accused loses the ability to use the computer, and likely access to all the other documents on it. What if the accused was a small business owner who has Quickbooks on it and couldn't run the business without it?

Of course, Google is opposed to it, because it could be used to shut down, or limit, vast swaths of Google, who, oh, that's right - sells advertising alongside everything, including illegal stuff.


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Export Import Business Q & A

You will find this Export Import Business blog contains important information, including many questions and answers to those questions from nearly 23 years in this businesss. This blog has posts going back to February 2006 that contain valuable knowledge for both individual international traders as well as company owners who are seeking to enter or expand their business operations - be sure you visit and read the archived posts listed by Month/Year on the lower right side navigation area of this blog and bookmark them so you may reference later.

Today's export import business question is:

What if I have no formal business education, business experience, and very little sales experience? Does interest in foreign cultures/languages and prior residence overseas help?

My first suggestion for you is to visit our Export Import business blog (this blog) at the link below and spend a day or two or however long it takes to read the posts that are not outright advertising.

Over the past years I have posted most of the best questions that I have received over the past 23 years along with the answers to those questions. You will serve yourself well to spend whatever amount of time necessary to read all those Q&A posts as well as others related to the business. I will try to answer your questions in reverse order.

Does interest in foreign cultures/languages and prior residence overseas help?

Yes, but simply having lived there and simply having an interest in their culture does not guarantee you success in international trade, it merely gives you that advantage in your business over someone who does not have the interest or living experience.

And, by the same token, someone who has the business educations, experience and sales experience is at a disadvantage to you by not having the experience you have. Am I making any sense??

"Business education" is often sold for more than it is worth - most courses that are taught in universities are done so by professors who have 'never' sold a single item of anything, whether into the domestic or foreign market.

Most of your formal courses get into technicalities that simply make the business seem unattainable or at a minimum, incredibly complicated.

What if I have no formal business education, business experience, and very little sales experience?

Some of my answer to this question is posted above but in regards to experience or sales experience let me state that more important than either one of these factors is "your will to succeed" and "your interest in doing so in this business".

The "your interest in doing so in this business" is probably the more important of the two.

The business has to interest you. You cannot focus on the money, you have to have an interest in bringing about business between two parties and getting paid for your efforts and time in doing so.

You need a seller and you need a buyer.

The seller's products has to be needed by a buyer. Their product has to be competitively priced. It has to be a quality product. The buyer may be looking simply for price, quality or both.

I will not get into repeating some of the information that is already posted on our import export business blog but suffice it to say, our self study course teaches you how to export and import. At what level you work in those businesses is your decision and believe me there are MANY levels in which you can work. And yes, it is WORK but it is YOUR work and YOUR business, remember that.

Many people also ask, which business is best to get started right now. Again, this is your decision but in my opinion, exporting is the better of the two to focus your attention on now. You can always get into importing later and it is really better to focus on one and become successful before trying to get into the other.

In closing, I cannot emphasize enough my suggestion that you read all the information (non-advertising) posts in the blog. Do not make a decision about our course until you have read through those posts.

If you have any questions after reading any of the posts, please put them alltogether in one email and send them to me and I will "try" to answer them.

Hope this email and blog will help YOU make a more informed decision about your future in regards to international trade

News of the World Closure Shows the Business Cost of a Bad Reputation

The decision to close the News of the World in the UK because of the fallout from the phone hacking scandal shows the importance of ethical behavior and public credibility for media firms.

The paper had been hacking the private communications of celebrities, politicians, crime victims, and even relatives of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and then spent four years trying to cover it up by paying hush money and—according to some reports—bribing police officers to ignore its crimes.

The paper, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., was Britain’s largest selling Sunday newspaper until it spectacularly unraveled in recent weeks. Continuing revelations of illicit activities and the announcement of Parliamentary and police investigations led advertisers including Ford, Sainsbury, Lloyds Banking Group, Virgin Media, Dixons, and Vauxhall to pull their advertising.

Perhaps it was embarrassment—but it was more likely the loss of revenue, the loss of almost $3 billion in market value for the parent company because of declining share prices, the hundreds of millions of pounds in damages that will have to be paid, and the fact that the paper’s meltdown was endangering Murdoch’s takeover of BskyB—that led him to kill the paper.

Unfortunately, the scandal shows that some journalists and news organizations will go to any length to get a story, no matter how disgraceful and unethical it may be. Fortunately, the number of journalists who will go as far as those at the News of the World are limited, but the outrageous conduct highlights the growing chasm between those who believe everything should be public and that journalists have a right to do anything to get information and those who believe in a right to privacy and a right to be left alone.

The culture at the News of the World that led to the behavior shows that pressures on organizations to put their interests above those of the public needs to be resisted. It is hardly a culture reputable news organizations and companies should emulate. Not only the reputational costs—but the economic costs as well—are far to high.