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9 Aug

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Transferring Innovation

15 Jul

We regularly see innovation become the norm in one field and then transfer to another.  Today’s post is about this type of idea, taking innovation from (of all places) the ski & snowboarding industry to automobiles.

So let’s start with some history.  Our story begins in 1995 with a garage-based start-up called Line Skis.  They were eventually bought out by a larger manufacturers – K2 but to this day are operated independently.  Their mark on the ski industry has been immeasurable.

The catalyst behind Line’s creation and our mission still today is the simple concept that a skier needs innovative product to progress their riding and the sport.  All of today’s most popular action sports grew in popularity thanks to this evolution in the 80’s and 90’s.  Unfortunately, this was not the case with our favorite sport of skiing.  Through the years, ski designs hadn’t changed outside of graphics and model names.  They were all long, pointy, straight, stiff, essentially designed for elite Olympic racers to go faster on ice around poles wearing spandex.

This was one of the most popular skis of the time.

In the 90’s, skiing was a declining industry.  Snowboarding was pushing forward as the cool sport for youth.  Line changed this.  They were innovative in two ways:

First, they borrowed ideas from snowboard design to create ‘twin-tip’ skis which were more forgiving, fun in the parks and basically bad-ass.  Additionally, Line moved away from the boring geometric shapes and stripes of the day to customized, hand-drawn graphics.  The ski became a canvas for the artist – a work of art; the design, an extension of the skier.

Nowadays Line has gone mainstream.  As previously mentioned, they were purchased by K2 and are now sold around the world.  Other manufacturers such as Salomon and Rossignol have adopted the same style with twin-tip skis and gnarly graphic options for every type of skier.  The boring geometric shapes and stripes have been left to the history books and for the first time in years, skiing has gained ground on snowboarding among youth.

Here we come to our crossroads.  Like ski manufacturers of old, North American auto-makers are losing out to foreign manufacturers (snowboarders in our analogy).  Innovation is necessary to move the industry forward.  Back in the day, Line’s tagline was “Because Skiing Needs A Future” – couldn’t the same apply just as easily to Ford, GM or Chrysler?

Cars today are designed with solid colours and a few chrome highlights.  What if auto-makers were to use the vehicle’s body as a canvas for artists, just like Line did with skis 15 years ago?  Your car would become an expression, a statement of who you are, more than the have or have-not symbol that dominates the auto industry today.

A work of art.  A timeless, priceless masterpiece.  Leave the solid colours to the competition.

You don’t need a Corvette to turn heads.

Also, please check out – they’re awesome.  If you’re curious, I own the 08/09 blend,  pictured here.

Edit:  What do you do if you’re an auto-maker who doesn’t want to do this across your extensive product line?  Update one line and use it as a prototype.  See what the reaction is like and go from there.  OR make it an option and market it as a premium upgrade.

Keynote vs Powerpoint

26 Jun

Keynote vs PPT
Presentation applications are the most important item in your productivity suite. After all, this is what you will use to showcase yourself, your company and your brand to potential clients, investors, etc. The choices made for internal use can have an impact on company culture as well. Despite the importance of this decision, many jump straight to Powerpoint, without properly considering their options.

Stand Out

Making a presentation with Keynote makes you stand out. It shows you went the extra mile instead of reaching for the easiest solution. Do you really want to blend in with the crowd? Or would you prefer your boss, co-workers and clients recognize you for being unafraid to take risks, a true individual.

Use Video

Remember when the only option for capturing quality video was to have an expensive, dedicated device the size of Russia? It was either that or the crappy 30 second captures made with your digital camera.

Video has come a long way; nowadays you can record beautiful HD video with compact, inexpensive devices such as the Flip, or even with your iPhone! With a plethora of capture devices, there should be no excuse not to use video whenever you get a chance.

Keynote plays nice with your video files. A really great way to add some polish to a presentation is to use video in the background. Fade out the opacity and place your text or images on top. Go for a minimalist look. The examples below can get you started but use your own creativity as well.


A lot of people avoid animation altogether; why not just chop off a finger? Unfortunately animating slide transitions in Powerpoint is like pulling your hair out – one piece at a time. It’s a real pain. Doing anything or special just isn’t worth the time. In Keynote, it couldn’t be easier! Let’s look at the options:

First of all, you’ve got slide transitions. These include the 3d animations that we all recognize instantly as the hallmark of a Steve Jobs presentation. Think doorway, page flip and cube. A word of caution, however – use these sparingly. Nothing screams amateur like a presentation where every slide uses 3d animation. Use them for effect only when appropriate.

Next, we have build in/outs. Here you’ll find the standard fade, swipe, typewriter, etc. You’ll find these easier to work with in Keynote than in Powerpoint. Open the inspector, select the appropriate tab and you’re off to the races. Click more options if you want to control the timing or order of events.

Finally, magic move. This is a killer feature for Keynote. Put a bunch of objects on a slide; then put the same objects on your next slide. For a transition, select “magic move”. The items will automatically animate to their new position. You can do a lot of slick things with this. Here is the Apple training video, make sure to watch to the very end for some very cool (but professional) effects.

Sure it might be a little extra work, especially the first time, but you’ll get better as you go and it will only make you a more versatile person – more likely to get the client, job, promotion, etc. So go the extra mile and add some WOW to your next presentation.

Standing out? WOWing the client? Now that’s Extraordinary Marketing! Let me know how it goes in the comments.

An update concerning accessibility.  If you’re worried about displaying your Keynote presentation on a PC, export it as a Quicktime movie.  You can click through it like a regular presentation, view it full screen, and run it on any computer whether they have presentation software or not!


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