Thursday, May 19, 2016

Rotten Bananas: Prioritizing Customer Concerns and Creative Problem Solving

If you combine banana liqueur, rum, brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, glimmering flames, vanilla ice cream, and bananas, the end result is one of my favorite desserts—Bananas Foster. (My mouth is salivating even as I write this!) Those who have enjoyed this delicious treat have probably also experienced the crave-enhancing tableside preparation—the aroma of butter, brown sugar and cinnamon combined over an open flame, the scent enhanced by the addition of the banana liqueur, and, of course, the igniting of the rum for dramatic effect. 

I visited my favorite Bananas Foster establishment on a recent trip. Every time I visit this particular city, I go to this steakhouse for the Bananas Foster. It’s just that good. This trip, I meticulously planned when I would go, balancing out my schedule and other eating engagements to maximize my anticipated enjoyment of this decadent dessert.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


What is the GDPR? It’s the most significant development in data protection law in 20 years. Current EU data protection is based on the 1995 EU Data Directive. In January 2012, the European Commission first announced proposed revisions to the Directive. On December 17, 2015, the European Parliament and Council announced the text of the brand-new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR has 99 articles and is over 200 pages long. Its adoption follows years of intense lobbying and represents a landmark moment in data protection and privacy both in Europe and around the world.

Effective Date. The GDPR becomes effective May 25, 2018. Until then, the Directive remains in effect. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

I like you so I’m going to hire you.

Last week I attended a presentation that purported to give you an edge when dealing with others. When I left the presentation, however, I wasn’t thinking about how interesting the topic had been or whether it was something I wanted to implement myself. Because my impression was that the speaker was self-absorbed and a bit of a braggart, despite the compelling nature of the subject matter, I was relatively uninterested in learning more about it. Maybe that’s harsh, but it brought home to me that being “likeable”* when you’re trying to sell something—an idea, a product; really, anything—may be more important that I’d initially thought.  

As a rule (to which there are, of course, exceptions), people will do business with people they like.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Equity Incentive for the Equity Actors in “Hamilton”!

Almost every week I receive at least one call from a client wanting to discuss and structure equity arrangements for employees, advisors, directors, and other key contributors to their businesses. Stock options and restricted stock can be important tools to reward people, especially in early-stage ventures when cash compensation is often scarce.

While equity compensation is typically thought of as incentive to help in future value creation, sometimes it is also acknowledging past contributions to the enterprise.

I noticed an interesting example of the latter a couple of weeks ago. The producers of the hit musical “Hamilton” announced that they had agreed to share profits with the original cast. This is a pretty unusual occurrence—one that Actors' Equity hopes will pave the way for actor participation in the equity of other productions. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Freeing the Textbooks: Open-Source Textbooks and the Next Generation of Education

Sticker-shock isn’t just something that happens at a car dealership. Each semester, college students across the country are faced with an increasingly expensive tab at their school bookstore as they struggle to afford the textbooks that are required materials for their courses. While financial aid helps millions of students afford college, the funds often don’t cover expenses such as textbooks and course materials, even if they are required.

Many students with limited financial resources are forced to make a tough choice – depend on high-interest credit cards to pay the bill, or try and get by without buying the textbooks for certain courses, which can put their academic performance in jeopardy.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Update on Google Books as Fair Use

In the early 2000’s, Google, in cooperation with certain libraries, publishers and authors, began the monumental task of scanning and digitizing books for the purpose of creating a database that would be publicly available and searchable. It launched Google Books in 2004. Although initially limited to the collections of a few major libraries, Google hoped to eventually include all available publications. 

Google Books is a nifty site that performs full text keyword searches of various works (more than 25 million scanned to date) to provide basic bibliographic information and links to bookstores and libraries where a book may be purchased or borrowed. Complete copies of books that are no longer subject to copyright or for which permission has been granted are available for complete view; sometimes they can even be downloaded. Previews or “snippets” may be available for works that are still under copyright (and included without the author’s or publisher’s permission), and in some cases, only basic “card catalog” information may be available. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

That’s a crazy idea for a business…

This past week I visited London, which turned out to be a perfect choice for my first vacation overseas.  What an amazing, historical city!

While there, strolling through Covent Garden, I came across the most curious business I’d ever seen.  It took up two store fronts, and bore the name “2theloo.”  I watched, wide-eyed, as customer after customer dropped their coins in a slot and proceeded through the till to use the restroom.  Could this be for real?

I found the company’s website, which promises “public toilets the pleasant way.”  This business first opened its doors in 2011, and now boasts over 200 “toilet stores” worldwide!  In addition to offering a clean, “better than home” experience in the restroom, these stores sell toiletries, gifts and gadgets, provide a platform for artists to display their work, and promote a green planet through sustainable choices.