Thursday, January 24, 2013

Aligning Your Organization for Precision Execution

This guest post is by John Foley, former lead solo pilot of the US Navy's Blue Angels. He is the founder and CEO of John Foley Inc., which provides keynote speaking, coaching, and hands on training services for Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, healthcare service providers and beyond. The core of his teaching is The Diamond Performance Framework, which translates the Blue Angels’ culture of excellence and peak execution for the World of Business.

The flying that I did with the Blue Angels was not dangerous, but it was inherently unforgiving, and nowhere was there less margin for error than “The Knife Edge Pass” maneuver. Imagine two jets headed straight for one another on a near collision course, 100 feet off the ground, closing in at 1000mph! As a pilot, it's your job to rotate your jet at the last split second, brushing past the opposing plane by a mere wingspan! There is no room for improvisation, and Blue Angels master this routine by leveraging a very simple tool called CenterPoint Alignment. By briefing on a CenterPoint, the two opposing pilots know exactly where to be, and exactly when to be there, and it’s this precision alignment that transforms the improbable into the possible.

How many times in the Business world do we enter a meeting room with an investor, partner, or customer without being fully prepared and aligned with your team? In a Blue Angel environment, you would very quickly put yourself into a highly dangerous zone.  Having the right set of information and sharing it between pilots is the first step to getting aligned on a CenterPoint. When the two solo pilots attend a Blue Angel briefing, they're given all of the necessary information, given the chance to visualize their actions, and mentally carry out the task at hand. Today, that's were Spoke comes in to play. is a great tool to help anyone collect the business information they need and get their team aligned around an information set, just like CenterPoint Alignment. Users scour the web to gather business insights on industries, trends, partners, customers and competitors, and create action-worthy intelligence to share with their team members. With these detailed industry maps, business users and teams understand where their CenterPoint is, and can fully align themselves along what needs to get done.

When I speak about the Blue Angels, I'm speaking about the best of the best, about the top .01% of the top 1% of all pilots. Keeping your team aligned on various CentertPoints can be the difference between performing in the top 1%, and soaring with the top .01% in your industry.

To learn more about John and his cutting-edge business philosophies, visit his website, or find him on

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Happy New Year 2013

Dear Friends and Spoke Supporters,

As we are starting 2013, I wanted to share with you some of the achievements we have been able to reach in 2012 and thank you for all your help along the way. I also want to wish you a happy new year from all of us at, we are all looking forward to be of help to you in 2013.

2012 has been the year of our relaunch. We released our alpha platform in January, and our beta back in June. The goal of this launch was to encourage contribution, as well as to gauge potential business cases for the platform. We did better than we expected as we finished the year being named as a top business intelligence company, and attracting over 25,000 new registered users!

Back in November, we cleared 200,000 edits made to the site by more than 25,000 unique people. About half of the edits accepted in moderation were made anonymously, which tends to validate our initial choice to allow them.  We are seeing a fair amount of spam, but it is well taken care of by our moderation system.

The pace of contribution has increased by a factor of 2.5 between January and November.  Across the board, our contribution metrics are half of what Wikipedia’s were when Wikipedia had the same amount of monthly visits, but accelerating (see below graph)

Our goal for 2013 is to be even closer, and hopefully reach the same level of performance. We think we can achieve it as more media companies start to get involved with the site, either through direct contribution, or through our APIs.

Speaking of which, yes we have been actively building APIs in collaboration with a handful of new partners. We have two sets of API in the works, one for reading from our database (read only) and the other to allow contributions (read and write) from our partners directly into the database. Cloudbase3, started by former CNET and Yahoo! executive Patrick Houston is already live using our Read Only API.  Please let us know if you would like to participate in this program.

In 2012, from a business use standpoint, we saw three very distinct use cases.

Manage your digital presence: Right away, users started to leverage the platform to promote themselves. The majority of the usage has been in creating and updating the ‘general info’ and ‘people’ page sections while the most advanced users were taking advantage of links and videos to aggregate all of their available internet content. By doing so, they were able to create much richer and relevant pages and better understand their social media footprint. Between companies and people, we had more than 160,000 pages created on the platform in 2012.

Business Intelligence: In Q4, we launched a customized activity stream for our registered users so that they are alerted via email when one of the pages is updated with a newly issued press release, a newly hired executive, or when an interesting and relevant article has been written about their subjects of interest. Right now, we have more than 50,000 different companies, people and topics being followed at any given point, and are sending 30,000 emails on a monthly basis.

Subject Matter Expertise:  A few people have built more than a thousand topics to display their level of knowledge and share that knowledge with their network and new information seekers. It is very exciting to see those interesting topics being created on the platform, and adoption is growing.

For 2013, our plate is already full so stay tuned for more exciting news. We will advance all of our use cases one by one, and create mountains of interesting new content both from us and with our partners.

Again, we wish you all the best for 2013 and let us know if we can help you in any way.

Philippe Cases

Friday, January 11, 2013

Automate your Information Flow with Follows

It's no secret that in order to be successful in business, you rely on information--about markets, competitors, customers, and technology (just the tip of the iceberg.)  But at some point you have to stop gathering information, and start acting upon that information, or nothing gets done.

Spend More Time Acting

Whether you've tried it out or not, your Spoke membership comes with a powerful tool for laser-focused, automatic information gathering!  To use it:  login and visit the 3, 10, or 57 Spoke pages for the companies and people you want to stay informed about (competitors, partners, prospects, anything;) and click the 'Follow' button on each.  That's it.  From now on, we'll listen to the newswires on your behalf, and notify you when important news happens.  You can also monitor this custom stream in real time by logging in.

We want you to spend less time becoming more informed than ever!  And we'll go one step further:  if there's a company or person that you want to follow, but we don't have a page yet (or we have an outdated page,) Use This Form and we'll add/update it for you!

Need something to do with that extra time?  How about taking our quick 1 Question Survey?