This is a series of posts from a book I’m in the process of writing. I’ll be posting more as various chapters are developing, not in any particular order.

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Please. Let me be clear right from the start. I don’t dislike or distrust numbers. I find them elegant and useful and eminently important. I’m even “good” at math (or was back in high school) and I’m proficient in Excel so my issues are not that I can’t comprehend or work with numbers.

Like many people, I find numbers reassuring — and therein lies the problem. When you see a numerical…


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Whenever the subject of whether or not corporations are people comes-up in conversation, the most likely answer is “No! Are you kidding?” The conversation inevitably winds around to why corporations have rights that US citizens do not (they do, by the way) and if corporations are going to be deemed people, then why shouldn’t they go to jail just like people can. I’m the sort who doesn’t think it’s a matter of “if” (it’s pretty clear, to me, that they should) but how, exactly. So, here’s how it could work…

First, why shouldn’t corporations go to jail for the same…


(And it hasn’t been for awhile)

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One of the things I’m most thankful to my parents for* is growing-up in Silicon Valley. To me, that means “a place where starting your own business wasn’t mythology, it was what the neighbors did.” When I started my first company with friends, back in 1989, in my last week at TheUnderstandingBusiness, co-workers would approach me concerned for my future: “how are you going to make a living, pay rent, etc.?” I remember being a bit bewildered, thinking “what’s the big deal, I’m just starting my own business.”

That’s when I realized that I…


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There should be fewer differences between for-profits and non-profits than you think.

One of the deepest lies about business in the USA has been perpetrated for at least 70 years: “the business of business is business.” The idea is that businesses are for making money—only making money—and any restraints placed on them, legally or socially (and that includes ethically and morally) are attempts to ruin a good thing. If you want to “do good” then go start a non-profit foundation and heal the world—of the very things that businesses have been hurting.

It wasn’t always this way.

In fact, at…


There is more to business and the world than merely function and price

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The 5 kinds of value are split between 2 that are quantitative and 3 that are qualitative (and closer to us).

Contrary to most of how traditional business understands value, there are more kinds than merely financial value. The myopia of only recognizing financial value leads many companies astray when they try to create value for themselves and others (their customers, partners, etc.) or when trying to mitigate all kinds of risks (legal, political technological, market, and especially social).

The Five Kinds of Value

Recognizing that there are more kinds of value than just money is the first step in building more and better value.


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The greatest threat to business, is business, itself — specifically a handful of companies that can control access to nearly all customers.

In most of the pre-Web days (B.W.), some companies controlled their own business and brands — certainly in the B2B space and the B2C companies which had the most valuable brands. The rest had to deal with mediated relationships to their customers. Unless a business could afford their own stores or “brand temples,” they had to play by the rules of grocery stores, department stores, and ultimately big-box stores who controlled access to their customers. These “platforms” set…


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Here’s my dire warning from the edge of the future.

In the 1990s, the World Wide Web began to free companies, allowing them to build direct relationships with their customers. Before this, retail stores and other outlets controlled access to most customers. Only companies with their own stores or customer service call centers could build reliable, long-term relationships with customers directly. The rest were at the mercy of these gatekeepers.

TCP/IP and HTML enabled the Web to change all of that. The term of the times was “disintermediation” and the vision was that “middle men” were doomed. Freed from the…


How Conversational User Interfaces Capture and Create Consumer Value

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In 2016, along with Steven Diller, I co-wrote Blind Spot, a book dedicated to uncovering and maximizing customer value. Blind Spot showed business leaders how to create and sustain valuable, productive customer relationships. In that book, we establish the thesis that whoever owns the relationship owns the value in the customer experience.

Customer experience is key. You can’t create value for or receive it from customers without having a relationship. And, you can’t create a relationship unless there is an experience.

Every single company in the world is in the…


How to prepare for a world where machines do the math.

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Open a browser, check your social feed, listen to the news and it’s impossible to miss the pundits pounding their drum: AI is coming, and — depending on which media guru you listen to — robots will take all our jobs and we’re doomed. Or, robots will free us from drudgery and the future looks bright. The techno fetishism and the techno dystopianism can’t both be true. Can they?

That divergence is an indicator that we need to pay attention to these developments and take a more nuanced approach. Technology can be confounding to understand. We don’t always know when…


by Nathan Shedroff

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Moses and the Burning Bush, with Moses Removing His Shoes attributed to Dierick Bouts the Elder courtesy the Philadelphia Museum of Art

They say the Lord moves in mysterious ways. When God wanted to speak to humankind, he didn’t speak directly. He used a conversational user interface (CUI).

And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.

And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him…

Nathan Shedroff

Nathan is a serial entrepreneur, including the new SEED digital currency: www.nathan.com & www.seedtoken.io

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