7 Best Blog Posts of 2017

Call me old school, but I really enjoy the written word.  I prefer reading a long-form blog post or article than a pithy tweet or fleeting Facebook post.  That’s not to say that I want a writer to blather on — rather, I like reading the work of people who have mastered the written word and write well thought out arguments or well supported insights.  With that in mind, I subscribe to a dozen or so blogs, newsletters, or article feeds from my favorite writers.  As 2017 draws to a close, I thought I’d share some of the best blog posts or writings that I read this past year, including ones from Mitch Joel, John Battelle, Om Malik, and more.

  1. The Real Retail Apocalypse (It’s Not What You Think) by Mitch Joel, President of Mirum, host of the Six Pixels of Separation Podcast, popular keynote speaker on digital trends, and all around terrific guy. In this terrific piece, Mitch describes six ways in which retail has changed (e.g., “Location, location, location no longer matters as much”) which could lead the reader to conclude that retail is dying.  But Mitch rightly observes, “What may be most interesting is that every aspect of what is hurting the traditional retail infrastructure seems to be an amazing new business opportunity for retail as well.”
  2. Uber, the Rashomon, Revisited by John Battelle, founder of Wired, Industry Standard, and now NewCo. This post is actually a reprint of a post that John wrote back in 2015 when a lot of ambivalence was being expressed about Uber as an industry disruptor. John explains the different perspectives on Uber at the time and concludes, “Like it or not, Uber is now our rashomon for understanding the impact technology is having on our culture.”  (BTW, I have to admit that I didn’t know what a Rashomon was, but thanks to a Wikipedia, I learned that “The Rashomon effect occurs when the same event is given contradictory interpretations by different individuals involved.  The effect is named after Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 film Rashomon, in which a murder is described in four mutually contradictory ways by its four witnesses.”)
  3. Your Culture Is Not Unique And Doesn’t Need To Be by Mark Tomaszewicz, Chief Experience Officer at Bulldog Drummond, former Ambassador of Joy at PIRCH, former director of The Sharp Experience at Sharp Healthcare, and dear friend. I met Mark for breakfast while he was in the middle of writing this post and I was in the middle of writing the manuscript for my upcoming book which is about the fusion of internal corporate culture and external brand identity.  Our conversation transformed both of our thoughts about culture as we debated the merits of a distinct culture.  I was delighted to see that Mark ended up writing, “Perhaps organizations need to operate first as a human culture before they can be a distinct culture. And, right now, human is distinct.”  It summed up our conclusion brilliantly.
  4. The iPhone Turns Ten by Om Malik, True Ventures partner, Founder of Gigaom, and writer for The New Yorker. The New Yorker is one of those magazines that I wish I had more time to read, but since I don’t, I cherry pick a few writers to follow and Om is at the top of that list. So this is not officially a blog post, but I definitely wanted to share this article because it is a terrific celebration of the iPhone and the transformative power it has had on the world. Om says it best, “From health care to transportation, the iPhone has touched and changed nearly everything.”
  5. Exponential Growth Devours and Corrupts by David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of Ruby on Rails, founder & CTO at Basecamp. This post spread like wildfire on the Interwebs because it presented such a provocative, contrarian POV. David starts by observing, “There is no higher God in Silicon Valley than growth” and blames the venture community for companies’ maniacal and ultimately destructive focus on growth by valuing businesses based on potential instead real positive impact. He concludes, “…What we need is a new crop of companies that are institutionally comfortable with leaving money on the table. Leaving growth on the table. Leaving some conveniences and some progress on the board, in order to lead the world into a better direction.”
  6. Three Strategies to Achieve Customer Obsession – and the Brands Doing it Right by Scott Davis, Chief Growth Officer of Prophet. Scott wrote several pieces based on Prophet’s Brand Relevance Index, which ranks brands on the four pillars of relevance they identified:  customer obsession, pragmatism, inspiration, and innovation.  In this post which outlines “Three Simple Steps to Customer Obsession,” Scott reports, “Being customer obsessed requires a pervasive focus on not just what customers want, but brands must also gain a greater customer understanding, and especially, empathy for what is important in customers’ whole lives, not just the narrow slice where brands interact with them.”
  7. Why Amazon Is Eating The World by Zack Kanter, a founder whose company used to be a vendor and “Marketplace seller” on Amazon. Zack wrote this piece to explain why he believed “Amazon is the most impressive company on earth, and I think it is one of the least understood.”  His insights on how “Fulfillment by Amazon” is Amazon’s Trojan Horse and other observations about how Amazon is building a closed loop logistics system were particularly revealing.

These are only a few of the great pieces I read this year but I wanted to say thank you to these wonderful writers for giving my brain good stuff to chew on this year.   Please share your favorite posts from the past year in the Comments section below.

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