Invacio | A Conceptious Vision built around A.I.

Invacio Pulse

William James D West

CEO Main Architect at Invacio Limited

Free Secure (Military Grade) Communications (Voice,Video, Data,Browse)

[First Published in 2014]

The ability to convert a 5$ walkie talkie from China in to a secure access point to the web or secure voice,video,data communication device.

When we first set out on the long road to Invacio's development we knew we would be using an immense amount of existing open-source scripts as well as developing our own systems.

One of the areas, actually one of our most important areas was the security and privacy available to our members, through this we had to test un-chartered waters as much as the common practices for we wanted a system that not only allowed our wild members to access the system and utilise it from their penthouse but also from the himalayas should they wish to. 

So in the end one of the by-products of our exhaustive development was the creation of a simple yet secure system that enabled our members to access the system, and communicate in voice, video, data and browse, we named this WE Net (i preferred WE Nap)


Full Explanation Document

Anyway we shelved this script after we took from its initial offering and developed much much further for our main product, this month however i have begun looking at all of our by products which include WE Net.

WE Net has been packaged in to the following : Secure Free Simplistic Private Communication System with a broad reach which opens the doors for many areas with connectivity up to 10,000 miles across open seas, mountainous regions and further.

Yes that app your using is antiqued compared.


Just some of the users and uses....

#People who were protesting against their govt. resulting in the their internet being cut off. Even worse govt. decided to muck with their cellphones networks too. They need basic communication tools to spread news and updates about their conditions, and with the aim to eventually relay that information to/from the internet when at least one of them is able to get a working internet connection.

#NGO's and medical teams working in Africa under poor conditions who want to build some basic communication's infrastructure to coordinate efforts like the delivery of medication and food or to update on local conditions without being intercepted by regional armed groups etc.

#Disserdents Groups who mistrust the normal communication infrastructure and who want to coordinate regional activity and share updates about oppressive actions
carried out by the authorities.

#Disaster response, rescue and medical teams who are working in devastated zones without the availability of standard telecommunication infrastructure. They want to keep updating their statuses, progress and resource availability between teams
when there may be large overage zones between them.

#Yacht owners who are sailing and who wish to obtain news updates from some
approaching coastline or another ship which has internet access. There may just be a simple exchange of information about news, weather conditions, provisions, gear etc.

#Local populations who want to keep in touch with each other on a daily basis with the goal of developing a strong community capable of maximizing their resources, food or manpower to help improve sustainability and their quality of life.

#Street protests or any other street event where people would like to share their
thoughts, anonymously and locally without relying on the internet. They may also
wish to share them with the world as a single voice using a simple gateway such as a unique Twitter account made for the occasion.

#Expedition base-camps who need a simplistic solution to build a common gateway
for establishing radio communication and messaging service links with camps,
remotely located base-camps and/or rescue teams to coordinate tasks such as
logistics, rescue efforts, routes and schedules.

#Secure Military Grade Connectivity for military who require a simplistic solution.

Basically in a nutshell it can convert a toy from china with broadcasting capabilities in to a long range communication device and with encryption up to current military standards, now whats even cooler is you can even play games, chat, message, conference (vid) and onwards, you can turn your device in to a secure access point to the world wide web etc all without the use of a telephone, mobile or wifi!!! and securely.

Now we are at a cross roads, as we developed this byproduct behind our larger project and we are unsure to sell - productise or open-source it for all or package it for humanitarian missions around the world, let alone its obvious military benefits, so as it is a side produce - so we are looking for others to weigh in and perhaps advise or jump in, ultimately as a billion dollar industry its a product that is in demand and a product that could revolutionise the industry for remote places, or privacy minded people, organisations or companies, whats more it completely obliterates government surveillance capabilities .

William James D West

CEO Main Architect at Invacio Limited


Article by Michael J Aumock

Artificial Intelligence, while we have created it to exist in machines, it is 100% man-made.
It might prove to be the greatest creation of all time, but it's still got human fingerprints all over it. And with those fingerprints, comes the very real potential for human error.
Design, programming, data input, code, every part and component of an A.I. is built by man and put in motion by competitive, sleep-deprived, greedy, temperamental, imperfect man.

What could possibly go wrong?
Artificial Intelligence is capable of learning, and self-teaching. True A.I. can process every byte of data it receives and integrate it in an intelligent manner with every other byte of data it's received in the past, or will receive in the future. However, I believe the real danger in A.I. not the so called runaway sentient machine....
It's poorly executed programming, incomplete coding or otherwise shoddy workmanship creating a poor version of an A.I. that doesn't learn, or can't learn properly. Whether on purpose or accidentally, an A.I. that can't learn correctly from it's own mistakes is a dangerous thing.

How many inventive coders have the time, patience and financial wherewithal to push START after a year of coding and hard work, and then pull the plug 3 days later and go back to the beginning to fix an early error and build it all again as Invacio did in the early days?
In my experience it is that most would rather find a VC willing to invest in a "great idea that doesn't quite work yet" and then cave in to pressure to launch before all the bugs are cleaned out. Thus, you end up with a well-funded, over-promoted, under-performing "Faux A.I." that will cause tremendous problems down the road.
It's not evil per se, but it is not good.

Bots as AI
Another area of concern is bots being called A.I.
Bots have a specific task in True A.I., and while some of those tasks are quite complex, at no point to they qualify a bot as an A.I. on its own.

True A.I. learns
The differentiator of a true, well designed, built and executed Artificial Intelligence is self-learning, and eventually self enhancing/scaling (which is Invacio's direction).

Realizing that, like was born (built) perfect, but not complete. As it gains in experience it realizes it has the potential to better itself by allowing new information to become part of it's internal memory, and in fact, self-correct, and understand that some of it's old data was incorrect, and the new data is right. And accepting that in time, what is "right" today, might change in the future. Yes, I am talking about a purely sentient A.I.

A machine that, without any human intervention after a certain point, can learn, understand and function in the world of humans, as a separate, sentient "being".
We give the machine the rules, the base line data and the boundaries of learning, and it goes out to the world and teaches itself based on those rules and boundaries.
I expect there will be some challenges as it asks questions of itself like "Why do humans smoke tobacco?" or "Why can't machines drink Scotch?"
But, if a machine is given the right tools, rules and guidelines to self-learn, self-correct and understand where new data fits in it's internal memory, over time (probably minutes) it will form it's own answers to these and a million other questions.

But if a Faux A.I. is struggling with the "Why do Humans smoke" question, and uses that information to decide that since "smoking causes cancer, humans are suicidal" and decides to help us along so that we don't suffer...Well, now we've got a problem.
The problem is that early adopters to A.I. are entities like communications companies, countries, huge multinational corporations. Medical and Pharma companies. Looking for competitive edge. Looking for a glimpse into the future.

If that glimpse is based on incorrect data, or a faulty base algorithm, then all the assumptions that come after are flawed and the data will be useless. So while there will be a staggering amount of money in play, there is also the human cost while people rush to invest or invent in the wrong direction.

So the key to a safe, functional, sentient A.I. is good groundwork. A solid foundation.
Set the table properly and take the time to teach the A.I. how to learn, how to self correct and how to exist in a world of humans.

William James D West

CEO Main Architect at Invacio Limited

Why I'm Not Afraid of A.I. - M.J Aumock

Composed by Michael J Aumock.

Terminator- Rise of the Machines" Just the mention of Artificial Intelligence brings the entire terminator franchise, iRobot and countless other "Tech Gone Wild" horror flicks to the forefront of the conversation.

When I agreed to do some work for Invacio, I was fairly inexperienced in the world of Artificial Intelligence. I was more of a skeptic than most, but I also have a clear grasp of human nature, for better or for worse. So I bring that with me to the A.I. table when I started doing research into the platform, the process and the end result. The Invacio Artificial Intelligence algorithm is tremendous in scope and scale, but it is just an algorithm. Or, more accurately a network of algorithms that work together to make billions of computations in real time, or so i thought... Then there is 'Jean' at the heart of the system, self learning and self creating like a honeycomb of outlets and inlets... 

This will dramatically shake up some industries, especially software, and any sort of consultation business that relies on experience or wisdom.

Most Wisdom comes from being able to combine the things we see in front of us, with the things we know from our past. In generations gone by, that was extremely valuable, because it didn't need to be looked up in a book or library or dusty old repair manual. First hand knowledge was fingertip knowledge that could be deployed instantly by a seasoned expert. Their experience was valuable, and they were paid for it, whether by a company with regular raises for so many years of service, or by themselves and the market if they were leveraging that knowledge to oversee others.

The way AI works, is by conglomerating enough base-line data, (Hundreds of millions or billions of bytes for starters) and building an algorithm that can sift through that data and discern answers to complex questions based on seemingly unrelated pieces of information. The key to A.I. is time. If you have enough people sifting through all the known data, the answers to literally every question will soon lay before you. Thousands of people have invested thousands of hours trying to determine what happened to Amelia Earhart... when the odds are that the data is in the books, but unrelated to the search at hand... someone would have to have the knowledge of where the exact data was to correlate it with the search, when it could be a photo of a child at the beach or a honeymooning couple with the tailpiece of the missing plane in the background. Human eyes would take centuries and still probably miss it, where an A.I. will see that Tailpiece and recognize it instantly as the same year and model as the plane Fred Noonan was navigating that day.

That's the first part of A.I. The second part is the "spiders" that crawl the web and look at every new piece of data and incorporates it into the search algorithm. Social media, news, .edu sites, search data etc...If its on the web and can legally be accessed, Invacio accesses it and incorporates it into the algorithm.

So the combination of existing historical data, combined with instant feedback from what is happening in the world at this very second, is what makes the Invacio equation.

When we release the spiders and start accumulating real-time data about seemingly unrelated things, and realize the implications of being able to see omnidirectionally regarding finance, disease, energy, global weather concerns, migrations of animals and people, we will have a clear picture of global truths unlike any ever imagined before, at our fingertips.

But this collection of data, of cumulative real-time truths means nothing without a human brain and a human hand to deploy it, harvest it, plant the seeds and send it along on it's way.

When Gary Kasparov says in his book, "Deep Thinking" that he "believes the future is a “human plus machine combination” — merging the brute force of calculation, machines, and algorithms with human experience and strategic overview." I tend to agree with him, take comfort in his words and look to the logic that he's basing them on. When human is competing against a machine, the machine will eventually win. But when human AND machine compete against a machine alone... the human/machine team win. That is what makes the Invacio equation so compelling, and why, ultimately I'm not afraid of Artificial Intelligence.

William James D West

CEO Main Architect at Invacio Limited

Invacio welcomes Andres Pedraza to the team | Dec 2016.

Andres Pedraza join's invacio in the role of Disruptive Data Lead.

Andres, formally with Fannie Mae (US) and prior to this, the NY Stock Exchange (NYSE US), brings a wealth of experience in to the Invacio team from trading to analytical experiences, Andres previously an executive within the NYSE service delivery section of the NYSE where he was deeply involved in the development of various analytical movements within various strategic financial instruments.

William (Invacio Founder) : "I felt that after the last four years of development around our system and our scale-outs in to the multitudes of areas composed around the full AI's (ML and DL) within our system(s) that we needed more input when it came to the financial side, knowing multiple people either in the hedge fund, brokerage, or other sections of the industry, and with the my aim to have invacio launched with a fully automated financial driven AI system like the rest, no half measures, i was introduced to Andres, who has been no end of help as we compiled the system, databanks, data feeds, analytical scriptures, purposes built Ai systems, and much more.

Andres, was a good fit, on top of his solid financial markets acumen, his strong organisational leadership and engineering experience at a number of leading financial markets based companies will be a real asset for Invacio, personally speaking he is down to earth, free spoken, not afraid to jump in, nor afraid to actively educated you when you are wrong, a well liked team player and trusted advisor of the Invacio project, as we come to a closure on the final stages of the system and enter in to Beta in the coming months.

Andres had the following to say in regards to Invacio and our vision.

The term "disruptive technology" has been so overused in almost every sector that to use it today barely elicits a yawn, which is unfortunate, because if anything deserves to be called a disruptive technology, it is Invacio. I can stake my reputation on Invacio disrupting just about every aspect of the business world within the next few years, and probably changing the way we handle our everyday affairs as individuals, as a bonus.

Our world has become data-driven, thanks not only to the Internet, but also to what is being called the Internet of Things. Everything is now connected, or soon will be. Data is being produced at astonishing and ever increasing rates. We are truly approaching a singularity, as futurists have been telling us for a while. But that brings a problem with it, and it is one of dimensionality.

If I give you a string of numbers, say {4, 4.5, 6.5, 9, 12.5, 15.5, 17.5, 17, 15, 11, 7.5, 5}, it would be meaningless. We call that data.

If I tell you that each number represents the monthly average temperature in degrees Celsius in London for a given year, then you have transformed data into information. With enough information, you can start basing decisions on it. However, as you add more dimensions to your information, and correlate it to other information, it becomes daunting. How about the average daily temperatures for each state in India, cross-referenced to rainfall, in turn cross-referenced to the rice harvests, for the last 25 years? Add the expected temperature and rainfall as far as our meteorology can predict right now, and you have some predictive capability regarding the next rice harvest, along with a pretty good idea of whether rice futures are undervalued or overvalued right now. Multiply that by a million sets of information, some which we know are related, some we know that aren't, and some that we just don't know because we haven't had the time to look for those correlations, or had the computing power and access to data that would be necessary. Enter Invacio. The premise behind Invacio in its current release is to aggregate a vast amount of information in areas such as meteorology, agriculture, transportation, finance, marketing, government, demographics, stock markets, and many more, too many to list here, and couple that with advanced and proprietary AI systems that will allow Invacio to harness the business intelligence produced by known correlations, as well as identifying many that were not previously apparent.

This part of the system alone can and will provide enormous value to any decision maker, not just by presenting opportunities that were not visible before, but also by highlighting risks that otherwise might have gone unnoticed until too late. Information is the one commodity we can never have enough of, and Invacio will be the preferred supplier.

This is, however, just scratching the surface. Having all that information available and easily accessible will provide services and capabilities to both companies and individuals that have so far only been seen in Science Fiction. We are working on evolving the system to not only be the top advisor to decision makers, but also to become the equivalent of the best trained valet or executive assistant for any individual. No job too big, no job too small.

Invacio will not be limited by the information fed to it, but will actively be crawling public and private databases to grow its information repository, and constantly looking for relationships between the information it is digesting, always learning, and always providing more insights and capabilities. Much like a natural organism, it will evolve and develop, likely exceeding even our expectations early on, and our expectations are huge.

I haven't been this excited to be a part of something in my entire career. We at Invacio want you to be a part of this, and we're sure you'll quickly be as excited as we are, especially as you see the results that Invacio will provide to your organisation!

Welcome to the team Invacio Andres.

William James D West

CEO Main Architect at Invacio Limited

Secret Shuts Down

[Update: Secret has confirmed it will shut down and give investors back their money]

Anonymous sharing app Secret will shut down soon, according to sources close to the company. The announcement could be made as soon as today or tomorrow, and there’s some talk of current employees receiving modest severance packages. Having raised $35 million, it’s unlikely that the company is out of money.

But after a major redesign sterilized the app’s identity and made it look just like its much more popular competitor Yik Yak, and its co-founder Chrys Bader-Wechseler left, Secret may see shutting down as the best outcome. Many employees, including top talent like Sarah Haider, Safeer Jiwan, and Amol Jain have left the company over the past month or so. One source says the company has been whittled down to under 10 employees from over 20 several months ago and has been in “maintenance mode.”

Requests for comment to Secret’s employees and CEO have gone unreturned.

It’s probable that Secret will hand its remaining cash back to investors, which include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, S-Cubed Capital, Index Ventures, Google Ventures, SV Angel, Fuel Capital, and Ceyuan Ventures.

[Update 12:40pm PST: Secret’s CEO David Byttow just announced that “With a heavy heart, I’ve decided to shut down Secret, wind-down the company, and return the remaining money.” This confirms our report.


In the farewell post where he mentions 15 million people used Secret, Byttow explains that “Secret does not represent the vision I had when starting the company, so I believe it’s the right decision for myself, our investors and our team.” As for criticism about cyberbullying, Byttow writes “I believe in honest, open communication and creative expression, and anonymity is a great device to achieve it. But it’s also the ultimate double-edged sword, which must be wielded with great respect and care.”]

Secret’s app lets you post short snippets of text, like confessions or rumors. The posts are “anonymish” in that your name doesn’t appear, but other details like your general location might. The startup garnered tons of press when it launched in early 2014. Along with Whisper and Yik Yak, it was part of a wave of interest in anonymous apps. It rode the hype to massive funding, which allowed the two founders, David Byttow and Bader-Wechseler to each take $3 million off the table. They essentially traded stock for cash, putting money in their pockets though the business wasn’t earning any.

Unfortunately, Secret’s slow response to criticisms that it facilitated cyberbullying gave it a rotten reputation with some. At SXSW 2014, I did a fireside chat with Byttow that you can watch below, where I hammered him about the potential risk of cyberbullying on Secret. He seemed incredulous, and I’m not sure he ever took it seriously enough.



After a year of slow growth, it ditched its highly visual design and background photos in favor of a minimalist text-only design that made it seem like a clone of Yik Yak. While it’s experimented with hyper-local backchannels for events like Sundance and CES, one source says the numbers weren’t growing.

Last month, TechCrunch’s Ingrid Lunden spoke to Byttow, who denied reports that Secret was shutting down or pivoting into becoming an app studio. He cited strong usage by the youth during spring break as a vote of confidence.

But according to App Annie, that spike of interest was short-lived, and Secret has since fallen back off the top 1,000 overall US apps chart since.

Shutting down and handing the money back to investors could keep Secret from going down in Silicon Valley history as a $35 million disaster.


William James D West

CEO Main Architect at Invacio Limited

Google Executive Dan Fredinburg Dies In Everest Avalanche After Nepal Earthquake

Dan Fredinburg, a respected Google executive who headed privacy for Google X and led its product management team, has died in the avalanche on Mount Everest which was triggered by the huge earthquake in Nepal. The natural disaster has already killed over 2,000 people in the region and devastated infrastructure. Some 18 other climbers have been killed in what is being described as the worst earthquake to hit Nepal in the last 80 years.

By all accounts, Fredinburg was an experienced climber who had also co-founded Google Adventure, a company team that filmed Google Street View images in “extreme, exotic locations like the summit of Mount Everest or the Great Barrier Reef off Australia.”

Fredinburg’s sister Megan confirmed his death via his Instagram account, while Google’s privacy director Lawrence posted the following earlier today: “Dan Fredinburg, a long-time member of the Privacy organization in Mountain View, was in Nepal with three other Googlers, hiking Mount Everest. He has passed away. The other three Googlers with him are safe and we are working to get them home quickly.”

He added that Google’s Crisis Response team has launched Person Finder for Nepal, and “is working to get updated satellite imagery to aid in the recovery effort. is committing $1M to the response, and we’ll have gift-matching available soon.”

Fredinburg co-founded a climate change nonprofit, Save The Ice, and a startup accelerator in San Francisco called The Laundry, aimed at taking technology to emerging markets.


Some friends of Fredinburg have put up a Crowdrise allowing others to donate to causes he supported.

You can donate to other organisations working in Nepal during the disaster including
the Red Cross and Oxfam.


William James D West

CEO Main Architect at Invacio Limited

Tech Companies Line Up Behind Surveillance Reform Bill

A wide range of companies today released their support for a surveillance reform bill that would effectively end the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records.

Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Reform Government Surveillance, a lobbying group representing many tech companies including AOL (they write my paychecks), came out backing the 2015 version of the FREEDOM Act.

“We support the bicameral, bipartisan legislation, which ends existing bulk collection practices under the USA Patriot Act and increases transparency and accountability while also protecting U.S. national security,” Reform Government Surveillance said in a statement.

“We thank Representatives Goodlatte, Sensenbrenner, Conyers and Nadler and Senators Lee, Leahy, Heller, and Franken, as well as other Members, who have worked hard over the past several months to draft a common sense bill that addresses the concerns of industry, the Intelligence Community, and civil society in a constructive and balanced manner. We look forward to working with Congress to pass this legislation by June 1st.”

The bill comes as a provision of the PATRIOT Act that authorizes the most controversial of the NSA surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden is set to sunset at the end of next month. Though the bill bears the same name as the legislation Congress failed to pass last year, it appears to include concessions to lawmakers concerned about national security that make it weaker than previous proposals.

Lawmakers backing the bill are advertising it as stronger on privacy and national security than a measure that died in a narrow procedural vote on the Senate floor in November. It’s impossible to do both, and critics say this bill goes too far on compromises.

Like the last bill, the FREEDOM Act would effectively end the government’s bulk collection of telephone metadata by allowing phone companies to store those records. The new version requires that the NSA use more specific selection terms, so that it can not search for records from an entire state or city. The new bill would also increase the amount of information American technology companies can disclose about their responses to national security orders.


But even with these new privacy and transparency measures, the bill makes concerning concessions on that front when it comes to national security. The last FREEDOM Act failed with a string of Republicans taking the Senate floor and warning drastic reforms would hinder the fight against ISIS.

Critics say the bill is better than a clean reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act, but worry about some of the changes made. Civil liberties groups are particularly concerned about a component of the bill that would increase the statutory maximum prison sentence to 20 years for providing material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.

“The bill does not go nearly far enough,” said Jameel Jaffer of the ACLU. “This bill would make only incremental improvements, and at least one provision—the material-support provision—would represent a significant step backwards. The disclosures of the last two years make clear that we need wholesale reform. Congress should let Section 215 sunset as it’s scheduled to, and then it should turn to reforming the other surveillance authorities that have been used to justify bulk collection.”
Alvaro Bedoya, executive director of Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy, sent an email to the press criticizing the bill’s transparency requirements. He said though the bill was a step in the right direction, it lacked many of the transparency compromises that were negotiated in last year’s bill.
“The House bill introduced today left a lot of those changes on the negotiating table. Under this bill, the government won’t have to say how many people had their communications collected under the law that authorized the PRISM program,” Bedoya wrote. “It also won’t have to say how many Americans have had their communications data collected under the PATRIOT Act. “

Additionally, this bill will allow foreign nationals to be monitored for up to 72 hours upon entering the United States. It also preserves the intelligence-gathering authorities. According to the literature distributed by the Judiciary Committee, this bill will reauthorize Section 215 and roving wiretaps to 2019.

Although such provisions are far from ideal, it is expected that, with the changed landscape since Congress last took up NSA reform, any measure would have to do more to address national security concerns than the bill last year. It is promising that the bill’s backers met those changes with additions to the privacy and transparency language, and it goes much further than the measure we saw introduced in the Senate.

Libertarian groups are calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to change course on surveillance reform. Last week the Kentucky senator introduced a bill that would cleanly reauthorize the PATRIOT Act until 2020.

As Congress rushes to address surveillance before the PATRIOT Act provision expires, the New York Times reported over the weekend the government has little evidence the phone record collection program has been effective. But even with that report, there seems to be little support from lawmakers to let the PATRIOT Act provision expire. Compared to the bill on the table in the other chamber of Congress, the House bill is the lesser of two evils. The FREEDOM Act will be marked up in the House tomorrow.

Graham S West

 at  Invacio

How Do You Think About Innovation?

Last weekend, I attended ProductCamp RTP 2015.  During the conference, there were 12 topics about all related to innovation.  The  agile marketing, IBM Watson, data analytics, neurological marketing, developing mobile, and market research (ok, I was biased on that one since it was my topic).

The keynote speaker was Dr. David Pulman, Former President Global Manufacturing & Supply GlaxoSmithKline.

The theme for this year was Innovation!

However, while I was listening to all of the speakers, I started to wonder about that word...innovation.  What do people think of when they hear it?  Do they just think of the latest technology?  

Dr. Pulman suggested that anything new is innovation, regardless of the industry.  Examples he discussed included combining multiple technologies into something different, like the Solar Impulse 2, thin crust pizza, and Clash of Clans.

Up until this weekend, if someone would have asked me my thoughts on innovation, I think I would have said it needed to be something newly created with a perceived better outcome (of some form) that was based in science or technology.  However, after the weekend, I have a very different perspective, a true paradigm shift.  

Innovation is still something new with a better outcome.  However, it does not need to be created and it does not need to be based in science or technology.  It could be a modification or transformation of something we already know.  Innovation could be the new Apple Watch.  Innovation is thin crust pizza when the world was used thick crust pizza.  Innovation is an efficient change in an office process.  Innovation is a better bolt and nut for deck construction.

What do you think innovation is? Let me know by putting in your comments.


J. Nolfo works as a strategic marketing, market research & analytics strategy guy for a large international chemical company. He also occasionally moonlights as adjunct professor at a local community college. The topics he writes about run wild based on whatever he is thinking about at the time and do not reflect the opinions of anyone he may be professionally associated with. All of his post can be found here and if you would like to read his regular posts then please click 'Follow' (at the top of the article under his name).

You can also follow J. on Twitter and G+.

Graham S West

 at  Invacio

When revenue sources dry up, step up the experimentation: Bezos transforms The Washington Post

Are you making money the same way now as you were five years ago?

Have some of your prior revenue sources disappeared?

Have you created new revenue sources—new products, services, customers or geographies—to maintain your business growth?

The newspaper industry is an apt example of a sector where revenue sources have shifted—and shrunk—over time.

Newspapers used to rely on advertising and subscription sales, but as these revenue sources have dried up—with print ad revenue dropping from $44.9 billion in 2003 to $18.9 billion in 2012—publishers have worked hard to find new revenue sources, such as conferences and marketing services.

Amid all this turmoil, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezo chose to purchase The Washington Post for $250 million dollars.

At the time, he conceded that the business looked “hopeless” from the outside, but called the newspaper a “black box” for experimentation and development.

Said Bezos, “There are so many knobs that can be turned and things we can experiment with, that I’m confident there’s something we can find that readers will love and will be engaged with—and that we can charge for.”

Since acquiring the Post, Bezos has indeed started to experiment. He has:

  • Embedded technology positions directly within the sales team, so that software engineers sit side by side with journalists, working to innovate new value for customers.
  • Taken steps to sell the Post’s back end content management system to local and regional newspapers.
  • Shifted the Post’s news coverage away from local Washington DC events, and toward national and international news.
  • Created visually appealing, magazine-style formatting for tablet users, and provided Amazon’s Kindle Fire users with a pre-installed package of unique morning and evening news.
  • Hired 100 new journalists to support digital efforts, creating confidence and optimism among the staff.
  • Hired the right editorial leadership to bring back the Post’s old journalistic mojo, to the point where New York Times media critic said, “The once-embattled newspaper is…turning the kind of reporting that journalists—and readers—live for.

If you are going to stay in business these days, you need to continuously evolve, change, and stay a step or two ahead of your competitors.

How is your industry changing, and what are you doing to experiment and adapt?

Adapted with permission of the publisher, Jossey-Bass, from The Agility Advantage: How to Identify and Act on Opportunities in a Fast-Changing World by Amanda Setili. Copyright (c) 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. This book is available at all bookstores and online booksellers. Read a sample chapter here

Amanda Setili is author of The Agility Advantage: How to Identify and Act on Opportunities in a Fast-Changing World (learn more) and managing partner of strategy consulting firm Setili & Associates, whose clients include Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, The Home Depot, and Walmart. She previously held positions with Global Food Exchange, McKinsey & Company, Asia Connect, in Malaysia , and Kimberly-Clark. Setili is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and Harvard Business School and has taught as an adjunct professor at Emory’s Goizueta Business School. She lives in Atlanta, GA.

Image credit: "Bezos’ Iconic Laugh" by Steve Jurvetson is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Graham S West

 at  Invacio

The Day I Learned Managers SHOULD Care

Almost 10 years ago today, my outlook on life, work, and people changed in the most insignificantly drastic way. And I'll never forget it!

Oddly, until the ripe old age of 22 I honestly believed that managers were some strange breed of human who separated work and personal matters no matter what. 

In late 2004, my family and I moved to Tennessee. Yeehaw. I was a mother of a 1 and a half year old and about 3 months into my next pregnancy. We moved with nothing. We needed a new start. I immediately began looking for work. I found a job as a waitress at Ryan's Steakhouse in Hermitage, TN. It wasn't prestigious by any means, but we needed any money we could get as quickly as we could get it. We were living in a cheap hotel until we could get some money gathered up.

To get the job, I interviewed with the General Manager, Chris. He immediately showed concern for our situation and took me under his wing, welcoming me to work as many hours as needed to make the money. He did many great things when I began working there such as offering my then-husband a job as a meat-cutter so that we could work opposite shifts and switching off would be easily managed. He was a funny, outgoing and very friendly guy. However, when it was time to work, it was time to work. I respected that. And as you now know, I believed this is how it should be and there were no blurry lines when it came to my performance at work and my personal crisis. 

As time went by, we found an apartment, got settled and began a more routine lifestyle. My belly got huge! I began my pregnant waddle but never slowed my progress at work. I learned to work smarter, not harder. This didn't stop me from missing some opportunities to provide the service I know I'm normally capable of but most people were very understanding. Plus, they usually liked my accent- which my Texas accent was, oddly, fairly different than theirs (they say I talked funny but I say they did). 

About 5 months later and at about 8 months pregnant I had become very comfortable with my job and my new responsibilities to assign side-work, sections, and check out servers before they could leave. My shifts were usually very calm (at least as far as restaurant industries go). I arrived to work one day feeling extremely exhausted, my Braxton Hicks had begun, and I was just slightly under the weather. As usual, though, we needed the money. 

I began work and about 2 hours into my shift, I see two guys sit at one of my tables. Ryan's is a buffet and you can have up to 10-12 tables at a time and it is seat yourself. I was waddling my big ole belly to the kitchen with both arms full of dirty plates as they traveled toward my table. I began to move as quickly as humanly possible when you have a critter in your belly kicking at your every unexpected movement - not to mention I'd had to pee for the last 1.5 hours. So, I hurried to the kitchen, scraped the plates, organized the silverware, washed my hands, grabbed some rolls- 2 baskets, one for the previous table to sit and one that I was about to greet, and waddled my big belly back in their direction. I put down the rolls at the first table that had sat because they had drinks and I didn't need to stay there. I then scurried over to the new table. As I picked up the ticket to see what drinks they had, here is what unfolded:

Me: Hey Y'all. My name is Julie and I'm gonna take care of you tonight. I've brought you some rolls and can go grab some more in a minute but I'll go ahead and get your drinks first. I see you have sweet tea, and you have a Coke. Correct? 

This Man: Well, it better not take you as long to get our F***ing drinks as it did to get to our G**D**** table. 

Me: (Placing ticket back on table). Well, thank you guys for coming in but I won't be serving you tonight. I'll see if I can find someone who can take better care of you.

This Man: What? You can't tell me you won't bring us our drinks.

Me: Actually, Sir, I can. Tennessee is a right to refuse state and I don't actually have to serve anyone, especially someone who would talk to a woman in that manner. (waddled away) *please note, you can only use this if you are not discriminating based on religion, sexual affiliation, race, gender, etc.

I went directly to Chris. On the verge of a down pour of tears: pregnant, emotional, verbally disrespected (this didn't really hurt my feelings, there were a ton of rude customers in and out but I was just emotionally unstable this night), just having been brave enough to make a decision that may have cost me my job = torrential down pour! I explained to Chris exactly what happened. He told me to stay put and he would be right back.

As he walked away, I just knew that I'd made a huge mistake, that he was going to go apologize for the horrible lack of professionalism I'd displayed and offer the man some sort of refund and my job in return for his forgiveness. I just knew it. As I wiped away my tears and immediately went into survival mode thinking of another restaurant that may hire a huge pregnant lady, he returned. 

He approached me with a big smile and his arms open wide for a hug. I was confused. What had transpired at that table that he felt the need to hug me? Was this a positive lead to a horrible delivery of bad news? "Ok Chris, I'm loving this hug right now but I need to know what's going on!!" I thought. Finally, he pulled away and began to explain his conversation:

Chris: Sir, I've heard a little of what happened but I'd like to know your side before I make such an important decision in how I react. 

This Man: (he is very honest and basically tells Chris the same thing I did- including what he said to me, but with a slightly more negative twist on my response)

Chris: In that case, Sir, I'll let you know that she is no longer going to be serving you tonight. (the man smiled, thinking I was sent home) If you'd like, I will do what I can to find someone who will serve you but I don't think anyone else will agree to it either. 

This Man: Well I paid for my food so what do you expect me to do?

Chris: Exactly. You paid for your dinner, but you tip for service. You don't like the service here, don't tip. Simple as that. 

*The lack of quotations is because I simply can't remember every word. C'mon, it's been 10 years! 

This about sums it up. The guy demanded his money back and left.

When he told me this, I cried again. I cried because I realized that my value to him was worth much more than one irate, a-hole customer. That keeping a good employee is better than losing them for something like this. That someone hurting my feelings and disrespecting me ultimately just pissed him off... That he CARED about me. 

It was a moment of realization that seems so small and insignificant, but it is those moments that people will often carry with them. I have kept this approach to working with others as my routine for all of these years. We've lost touch but I wish I could thank Chris for teaching me a lesson that no book could ever teach me. For proving that every individual is important to the team and that we are not only working for each other, we are working with each other- no matter your position or title. 


 Have you had any 'insignificant' defining moments in your career? Please share below in the comments and let us all learn those lessons with you. Thank you for taking the time to read one of my many life lessons. Luckily this one had a good ending while many have not been so pleasant. I've truly been blessed to work with some amazing people. Can't wait to see who I'll meet next. 

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