1. A Wicked Good Hotel
The Block, the newest hotel in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., caters specifically to snowboarders. Rooms are decked out with boot and glove dryers, bike and snowboard racks, snowboard photography, Wi-Fi access, Xboxes, and PS2 game systems. The owners hope to open four more hotels in winter resorts by 2010.
2. More Munchies
The latest organic-food craze: products made from hemp seed and oil. Thanks to a federal court ruling, selling and consuming hemp foods is legal for the first time in the U.S. The plant, a variant of marijuana, is infused with healthful omega-3 and omega-6 acids, but contains little or no THC, the chemical that makes marijuana psychoactive.
3. Pay per Call, Not per Click
A San Francisco company called Ingenio has developed a Web advertising system that helps smaller businesses make better use of powerful tools like Google's new local search service and Yahoo's online yellow pages. Most companies that advertise on search engines today pay a certain amount per click to their ad. Problem is, too few of those clicks result in an actual qualified lead, let alone a sale. By attaching a unique phone number to each ad, Ingenio is able to charge advertisers only when their ad results in a phone call from a prospect.
4. Only a Special Few Have "Deep Smarts"
Research conducted by Dorothy Leonard of Harvard and Walter Swap of Tufts suggests that only a handful of workers possess "deep smarts" -- knowledge that is critical to a company's success. These workers tend to be 10-year veterans and astute, abstract thinkers. In their book, Deep Smarts, the authors urge employers to identify and retain these workers -- and to leverage them as mentors.
5. A Truly Universal Remote
Constantly blaring TVs drove Mitch Altman to such distraction that he created TV-B-Gone, a device that can shut off any TV anywhere. It looks like a car remote, attaches to a key chain, and can transmit more than 200 signals. Switching off a public TV may seem aggressive, but "really, it's not hurting anybody," Altman says. The $15 gadget made such a splash this fall that Altman's company, Cornfield Electronics in San Francisco, took down its website because of the crush of traffic.