The Obama Plan; How to be a Leader

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Becoming a great leader in 101 easy steps. Vincent Van Gogh once said, "Great things are done by a series of small things brought together." Along those lines, Digg links to the business site, Focus.com, which has compiled a list of 101 Common-Sense Rules for Leaders. The list covers all aspects of a good manager's toolbox, including tips for getting along with employees, boosting productivity, and managing finances and resources. Also included are pointers on maintaining body language that's appropriate for a leader: sit up straight, face the person you're talking to, and take your hands out of your pockets. To be fair, those last few tips have been in use for decades by mothers of pesky third-graders everywhere.

Obama delineates his plan to overhaul the financial regulatory system. The Washington Post got a hold of Obama's 85-page white paper which details proposals to inject the government more deeply in private markets. Rather than abandoning a failed system, the paper offers "an architect's blueprint for modernizing a creaky old building." It's structured around five key points: increasing the power of the Federal Reserve; asking Congress for authority to dismantle troubled large firms; increasing federal oversight into the recesses of the financial markets like trading in complex derivatives and securities built from mortgage loans; the creation of a new agency to protect consumers with mortgages, credit cards and other financial products; and increased coordination with other nations. The blog, peHUB, says the regulations are aimed more at hedge funds than private equity and VCs, but advisers to hedge funds, PE funds, and VC funds whose assets exceed a certain threshold could be required to register with the SEC and required to report information on the funds that pose a threat to financial stability. Obama is scheduled to announce his full plan today.

MySpace cuts deep. When it comes to social media start-ups, it's amazing how quickly fortunes can change. Last fall, things were still looking pretty good for MySpace. The social network was struggling compared to Facebook, but it's traffic was massive and it was working on an ambitious project to unseat iTunes for dominance in online music sales. Fast forward eight months, and cofounders Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolf are out, and new CEO Owen Van Natta--formerly COO of Facebook--is laying off 30 percent of the staff. Techcrunch guesses that the 480 employees that were dismissed yesterday could be joined by another 300 or so. In the press release Van Natta was downbeat, calling current staffing levels "bloated" and adding that the company needed "to an environment of innovation that is centered on our user and our product."

Does Open Source not get small business, or vice-versa? Last week Dell announced that it would be offering open source application bundles--so-called "SMB-in-a-box"--to small-to-mid-sized business looking for a cheaper alternative to commercial software. CNET questions whether open source is getting the SMB market right, based on how many SMBs still think of open source as not secure and too complex. But OStatic thinks the problem stems from the fact that many small business owners aren't aware of open source versions of proprietary software. According to OStatic's Sam Dean, smaller businesses without IT managers might not know how far open source platforms have advanced recently or that there is cheap commercial support for open source software. Dean thinks bundled features like Dell's or groups like the Open Source Channel Alliance can change that, as could better ways to evangelize open source. What do you think? Are small businesses really that out of the loop when it comes to open source? What would it take for you to get your company to adopt?

Some metro areas still thriving. Chances are if you're in one of Texas's biggest metro areas, such as San Antonio, Austin, Houston, or Dallas, you're not feeling the recession as much as the rest of the country, a new study from the Brookings Institution has found. In an interview with The Huffington Post, Brookings Instution's Alan Berube said, "This is not one national recession. It's felt barely at all in some parts of the country, and it's felt deeply and significantly in others." The four Texas metropolises, plus Oklahoma City, are the five strongest performing large metro areas in the country, according to the six economic indicators evaluated in the study. The worst performing metro areas out of the country's 100 largest include four in Florida: Jacksonville, Lakeland, Tampa, and Bradenton. And the absolute worst? Detroit.

Attack on QuickBooks by free service. San Francisco start-up, NetBooks, is rereleasing its on-demand suite, renamed WorkingPoint. Although the service includes all the functionality of QuickBooks -- invoicing and accounts receivable, expenses and accounts payable, etc. -- NetBooks' CEO Tate Holt promises the company is not trying to replace its predecessor. Instead, he says, with its free price tag it's merely trying to steal away cash-starved young companies. "We believe that if we focus on companies that are just starting out, that is when a business is at its most cash-critical stage," Holt said. "Why not be free? Why have a barrier to entry?" Holt acknowledges that even with the free service's revamped features, it's going to take some work to carve out a niche in the already over-run small business market. "There are many, many people that have gone after the small-business market, and there's a big graveyard there," he said.

You're the Boss. This new blog from The New York Times focuses on small business owners. Operating under the notion that many entrepreneurs lack formal training in running a business, at least one of the bloggers, Jay Goltz, says he hopes readers will find the blog to be the mentor he never had. Inaugural topics include swelling foreign stocks and how President Obama's stimulus package might actually deter small businesses from hiring new employees.

Last updated: Jun 17, 2009




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