My Favorites of January: Artificial Creative Intelligence, NY Times’ Vision & Trolling Trump



What does the New York Times, read daily by Obama and hated by Trump & Bannon, foresee for 2020 ? In one of the articles shared in this month’s list, the NY Times outlines its vision for the years to come, not on a political standpoint but on a business & strategy standpoint. Other articles in this digest include a Japanese agency with a robot in its creative team, a portrait of a very discreet super-rich philanthropist, and a wildly funny video from the Netherlands.

Have you hears of Charles F. Feeney ? I didn’t. He made a fortune by setting up duty-free shops, but he’s also one of the world’s most prolific yet discrete philanthropists. “Giving while living” is his motto. Warren Buffet says Feeney is his hero, and the hero of Bill Gates too. As this NY Times portrait writes: “Altogether, he had contributed $8 billion to his philanthropies, which have supported higher education, public health, human rights and scientific research.” Feeney donated £75m for the Rhodes Scholarship, which I blogged about a couple of years ago while studying in the US. Actions speak louder than words.

He made a fortune setting up duty-free shops and is one of the world’s most prolific philanthropists

A good article about branding in Silicon Valley. Nothing groundbreaking, to be honest, but a set of useful tips from an experienced marketer of some of the world’s hottest companies. In this long article, she explains how positioning is key, even for websites with major traction and phenomenal funding. She also outlines the value of focusing on high-expectation customers (HXC) – academic jargon would use the term lead-user – to keep a competitive edge. This is what we do with our recently introduced Premium program at WiSEED.

The value of focusing on high-expectation customers – or lead-users – to keep a competitive edge

I see immigration as a positive force for good, not as a threat. It’s like Skittles food : if a healthy balance is found, it makes you stronger. This is also what this CEO thinks. It’s not ideology, it’s pragmatism. “Ralph Dommermuth, a German entrepreneur […] says companies can help themselves in the eyes of society if they play a bigger part in integration,” the article writes. “Trust has been lost in politics, in the church, in banks and large companies and even in Fifa, [and] companies here have a good chance to show they are part of society.

Ralph Dommermuth says companies can help themselves if they play a bigger part in integration

Creativity can be bizarre, unexpected, unlikely, unexplainable. So why wouldn’t a robot be able to come up with creative ideas ? In Japan, where creativity is sought after, an ad agency has come up with a new idea : outsource it to a robot with artificial intelligence? This is what this short article is about : “Japanese [ad] agency McCann Japan, is set to work on providing new creative direction for commercials. The AI will give input on projects, mining and analyzing creative databases of adverts to find the best commercials for products and messages.” I think it would have been more impactful if they had provided an example of an ad or campaign. Looking forward to see AI-CD β win a Cannes Lions and then make a career as a genius creative director.

Looking forward to see AI-CD β win a Cannes Lions and become a creative director.

Fred Wilson, VC since 1986, shares predictions for 2017. From Trump to the tech sector and the GAFAs, he gives some trends that he sees for the year to come. Don’t take his word for it, but he is experienced and knowledgeable, and I find most of his post plausible. And interesting! “The beauty of the VC business is you don’t have to be right that often, as long as you are right about something big. Which leads to going out on a limb and taking risks. And I think that strategy will pay dividends in 2017. Here’s to a new year and new challenges to overcome.” We’ll see in late 2017 in what he was right.

He is experienced and knowledgeable, and I find most of his post plausible.

Trump bashing is fashionable at the moment, and I do participate to a certain extent. But I do so because I genuinely believe he is not fit for a position like the one he’s been elected for. So I raise my doubts and share articles that I find interesting and thoughtful. This article criticizes the people and organizations who take on Trump with false or unverified accusations, like Buzzfeed did, which is both unfair and unconstructive. A good, intelligent read which underlines the need for facts for political dialogue.

This article criticizes those who take on Trump with false or unverified accusations

A long but good post on design practice, web design, user innovation and… money. The UX team at Capital One Bank have compiled this post, with testimonials of varying quality but an overall super useful set of insights about designing for banking in the future. “Our wide-ranging conversations gave us insights into what they do, why they do it, how the reality of working in financial services has compared to their expectations, and what the culture of design is like inside Capital One. Here’s some of what they shared with us.

The design team at Capital One have compiled these useful insights about designing for online banking.

During his eight years in the White House — in a noisy era of information overload, extreme partisanship and knee-jerk reactions — books were a sustaining source of ideas and inspiration, and gave him a renewed appreciation for the complexities and ambiguities of the human condition.” I’m not surprised by this article‘s content, but I just like the message and the idea. Smart people cultivate themselves and take time to think, even if they have the highest positions.

Smart people cultivate themselves and take time to think, even in the highest positions.

A really long but very detailed post about the 2020 vision of The New York Times. I just had to share it. It outlines the values, the successes and failures, the challenges and the vision for the brand. It’s interesting to see how the organization’s main asset – staff – needs to be accompanied through the digital change that the NYT is going through. If you have 30 minutes or so, and if you are in a position where strategy and vision are key to your organization’s success, do read it and get inspired.

Interesting how the organization’s main asset – staff – needs to be accompanied through digital change

Some of the best websites, apps and user interfaces that 2016 has brought along. Product Hunt, which has been acquired by AngelList recently, shares a list of innovations that have been launched in the past year ; 90% of which I had not noticed. “We saw the launch of thousands of amazing products. […] It serves as a reminder that there is always progress to be made and something new to create. Here are some of the Product Hunt Team’s favorite launches from last year.” the good thing about these lists is that you discover marvelous concepts, even if they never gained traction, and you can get inspired by them.

A list of innovations that have been launched in 2016 ; 90% of which I had not noticed

Really, really funny video from a Dutch TV show. The video is a spoof message by ‘Zondag met Lubach’ to officially introduce Holland (the country, not the French president) to Trump : “We speak Dutch. It’s the best language in all of Europe. We’ve got all the best words. All the other languages? Failed. Danish? Total disaster,” a voiceover says, “German is not even a real language. It’s fake.” 🙂 Truth be told : Dutch is a horrible language to listen to. Like German. But their humor proves to be great. It’s great ! Tremendous fun !

The Dutch humor proves to be great. It’s great ! Tremendous fun !

For more, check what’s on my reading list any time on or, and don’t hesitate to mention me if you feel like sharing anything. Thanks for reading.

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