A novel way to avoid sexual harassment in the office. Yesterday afternoon we received an unusual press release. "CEO Encourages Sexual Fantasy at the Office," trumpeted the subject line, which was promoting a book called the No-Gossip Zone by Sam Chapman and Bridget Sharkey. Chapman, a Chicago PR entrepreneur with a knack (obviously) for writing eye-catching copy, has some, um, unconventional beliefs regarding sex in the office. In his book, Chapman argues that the best way to avoid "dipping your pen in the company ink," is to fantasize about your employees. Now, we're not ones to judge, but announcing that you fantasize about your employees in a press release seems like bad form from a management perspective, but Chapman is serious. Or at least the Detroit Free Press is taking him seriously. The newspaper writes up Chapman's advice: "'You can realize the sexiness of a situation or a person and then retreat to a private moment in which you feel a little zing or say a little 'woo-hoo' inside your mind,' writes Chapman. Indeed, Chapman says the 'woo-hoo' feeling can be efficiently dealt with in 20 seconds or less of imaginary bliss, and even a physical shimmy."
The Most Interesting New Tech Startups of 2009? It's not who you think. Six Apart VP and blogger Anil Dash says the most promising startup is also the least likely: the executive branch of the Federal government. "Now, .gov websites have historically been backwaters at best, a bunch of awkwardly-designed, poorly defined sites that only met the bare requirements of a web presence." But under the current administration, chock-a-block with digital natives, .gov has been transformed into a set of platforms that Dash says "are going to inspire as much technological innovation as Twitter, Facebook, or the iPhone did." Some of the most compelling new sites are: Data.gov, USAspending.gov, Recovery.gov, and WhiteHouse.gov. But what stands out, says Dash, is that each site has consistent branding elements, is thoughtful about design (from the look to the information architecture), and features new APIs and data sources to build third-party applications. With the innovation around open APIs for services like Flickr and Twitter, and the success of Apps for America, that last point may be the most significant, says Dash. Read our July tech piece on how open APIs can help your company find a small army of volunteer developers to do your work for you.
The job market landscape. The job site Indeed.com has the intel on how hard it is to find a job in your city, displayed in this neat, but slightly depressing, graphic. Smile if you're looking for work in the nation's capital. Cry just about everywhere else. (Via Recessionwire.com.)
Organic food companies stay true to their roots. With the organic food industry ringing up a whopping $24 billion in sales last year alone, it is no surprise that the major food brands are trying to get a piece of the action. But as the Chicago Tribune reports, a cadre of small, organic food companies are refusing to sell out when the big boys come knocking with the promise of a big payout. Michael Potter, CEO of Eden Foods, is one of the holdouts that has refused to answer the lure of big food companies. As he explains, "Every food company you have ever heard of has tried to buy this company. Not most of them. Every one of them." Potter cites the practice of some major brands to buy a small, organic food company and retain the name but hide their corporate affiliation as one of the reasons he won't sell his company. Beyond that, he also also some other reasons of keeping control of his company. In his words, "What I do is meaningful. It needs to be done. And it's fun."
"Why be an ethical company?" In Business Week, Duke University executive in residence Vivek Wadhwa argues that in the fallout from the focus on short-term profits above all else, ethical companies have emerged more or less in tact. Even on Wall Street, companies like Charles Schwab and US Bancorp, which "share a laser-like focus on customer service and on honesty and transparency," avoided the subprime housing market--partly because it didn't serve their long-term interests--and partly, Wadhwa conjectures, because "these companies didn't feel comfortable asking their employees to sell unethical mortgages to customers." A sense of higher purpose built into a company's DNA, he argues, positively influences both strategy and risk management.
San Francisco out front on innovation once again. In a guest post on TechCrunch this morning, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced the launch of DataSF.org, a new city-run website that he says will provide "a clearinghouse of structured, raw, and machine-readable government data to the public in an easily downloadable format." It hasn't been named the most interesting tech startup of 2009--yet--but the site is launching with 100 datasets, including location-specific crime stats and information on restaurant health inspections. The goal here (in addition to providing greater government transparency) is to give the city's tech community some catalysts for further innovation. "We imagine creative developers taking apartment listings and city crime data and mashing it up to help renters find their next home or an iPhone application that shows restaurant ratings based on health code violations," Newsom writes. Not a bad political maneuver either, what with Newsom's planned run for governor in 2010.
Is it possible to open a restaurant with no money? The Wall Street Journal fields a question from a recent college graduate with no savings who wants to start her own restaurant. The short answer? Your best bet is friends and family or a wealthy angel investor. Write up a business plan, pitch it to family and friends, and make sure they know the timeline, and that your investors are people you want with you for the long haul. Want to know how to start a t-shirt company? What about a beverage company? Or even an adventure travel startup? It's all in our 2009 guide: How to Build Your Dream Company.
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