Weekly Pulse by William Meller | Week 29, 2022

The Weekly Pulse is my content curation and my highlights from readings, books, podcasts, insights, and everything I discovered during the week.
The Weekly Pulse is my content curation and my highlights from readings, books, podcasts, insights, and everything I discovered during the week.

So, let’s go with some discoveries from the week!

#1 – A Survival Guide for Leaders
#2 – The Long Tail
#3 – Where Did the Long Tail Go?
#4 – YouTube Extremism and the Long Tail
#5 – The Leader’s Calendar: How CEOs Manage Time

A Survival Guide for Leaders

Source: Harvard Business Review 
Author: Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky

Summary: Steering an organization through times of change can be hazardous, and it has been the ruin of many a leader. To avoid the perils, let a few basic rules govern your actions— and your internal compass. Leading change requires asking people to confront painful issues and give up habits and beliefs they hold dear.

3 Highlights:

“… The uncommitted but wary are crucial to your success. Show your intentions are serious, for example, by dismissing individuals who can’t make required changes. And practice what you preach…

“… Cook the conflict. Keep the heat high enough to motivate, but low enough to prevent explosions….

“… Place the work where it belongs. Resist resolving conflicts yourself—people will blame you for whatever turmoil results...” 

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The Long Tail

Source: Wired
Author: Chris Anderson

Summary: Forget squeezing millions from a few megahits at the top of the charts. The future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream. The long tail is a business strategy that allows companies to realize significant profits by selling low volumes of hard-to-find items to many customers, instead of only selling large volumes of a reduced number of popular items.


“… The first is the need to find local audiences. An average movie theater will not show a film unless it can attract at least 1,500 people over a two-week run; that’s essentially the rent for a screen. An average record store needs to sell at least two copies of a CD per year to make it worth carrying; that’s the rent for a half inch of shelf space. And so on for DVD rental shops, videogame stores, booksellers, and newsstands...

“… The problem with MP3.com was that it was only Long Tail. It didn’t have license agreements with the labels to offer mainstream fare or much popular commercial music at all. Therefore, there was no familiar point of entry for consumers, no known quantity from which further exploring could begin…” 

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Where Did the Long Tail Go?

Source: The Honest Broker
Author: Ted Gioia

Summary: ‘The Long Tail’ was supposed to boost alternative voices in music, movies, and books—but the exact opposite happened. If there really is no economic support for the Long Tail, our opportunities to nurture alternative voices are severely constrained. The downsides of living in a society without a healthy counterculture deserve our closest attention, so I will probably address this issue again in the future.


“… Surely Chris Anderson knew all this when he wrote The Long Tail. He must have learned about the Pareto Principle somewhere along the way. And in fact, he admits as much in the book. But he immediately counters the 80/20 rule with his own discovery, which he calls the 98% rule…..” 

“… But even the people behind the Long Tail book want to operate on the short end of the distribution curve. Bestsellers are a bad bet, the book claims—except on the front and back cover...” 

Access the full Weekly Pulse reading here >>

YouTube Extremism and the Long Tail

Source: The Atlantic
Author: Conor Friedersdorf

Summary: Unlimited selection is revealing ugly truths about what some Americans want in their politics. Zeynep Tufekci, the insightful scholar and observer of sociology in the internet era, argued over the weekend that YouTube is unwittingly radicalizing some of its viewers through the videos that it automatically recommends that they watch next. 

3 Highlights:

“… Videos about vegetarianism led to videos about veganism. Videos about jogging led to videos about running ultramarathons. It seems as if you are never “hard core” enough for YouTube’s recommendation algorithm…” 

“… Maybe YouTube’s algorithm does steer heavy users toward metrics like “hardcore” or “inflammatory” to raise engagement. But rereading “The Long Tail,” it strikes me that a YouTube radicalization effect would manifest even without that being true. YouTube clearly monetizes “the long tail” in much the same way as did Amazon and iTunes…” 

“…  Recommendations are a remarkably efficient form of marketing, allowing smaller films and less-mainstream music to find an audience,” Anderson wrote. “And the cultural benefit of all of this is much more diversity, reversing the blending effects of a century of distribution scarcity and ending the tyranny of the hit…” 

Access the full Weekly Pulse reading here >>

The Leader’s Calendar: How CEOs Manage Time

Source: Harvard Business Review
Author: Michael Porter and Nitin Nohria

Summary: In 2006, Harvard Business School’s Michael E. Porter and Nitin Nohria launched a study tracking how large companies’ CEOs spent their time, 24/7, for 13 weeks: where they were, with whom, what they did, and what they were focusing on. To date Porter and Nohria have gathered 60,000 hours’ worth of data on 27 executives, interviewing them—and hundreds of other CEOs—about their schedules. This article presents the findings, offering insights not only into best time-management practices but into the CEO’s role itself. 

3 Highlights:

“… CEOs need to learn to simultaneously manage the seemingly contradictory dualities of the job: integrating direct decision making with indirect levers like strategy and culture, balancing internal and external constituencies, proactively pursuing an agenda while reacting to unfolding events, exercising leverage while being mindful of constraints, focusing on the tangible impact of actions while recognizing their symbolic significance, and combining formal power with legitimacy….” 

“… Chief executives have tremendous resources at their disposal, but they face an acute scarcity in one critical area: time. Drawing on an in-depth 12-year study, this package examines the unique time management challenges of CEOs and the best strategies for conquering them…” 

“… The success of CEOs has enormous consequences—good or bad—for employees, customers, communities, wealth creation, and the trajectory of economies and even societies. Being a CEO has gotten harder as the size and scope of the job continue to grow, organizational complexity rises, technology advances, competition increases, and CEO accountability intensifies…” 

Access the full Weekly Pulse reading here >>

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