The first copies of The Ad-Free Brand showed up at the house on Friday afternoon. So I guess that means, after nine months of work, it is finally out. Awesome.
This book is the work of many people. It is filled with the helpful edits and brilliant suggestions of Jonathan Opp, Rebecca Fernandez, and Rick Kughen, plus the insightful contributions of Kevin Keller, Greg DeKoenigsberg, Paul Frields, and many others. It is a product of the patience and support of my wonderful girlfriend Maggie and my New Kind friends David Burney, Matt Muñoz, Tom Rabon, and Elizabeth Hipps.
There are so many people who’ve helped me out over the past year, and I owe all of them a debt of gratitude.
I thought I’d share the acknowledgments from the back of the book here in the hopes of introducing you to the work of a few of the people who helped me make this book a reality. Please take a few minutes to click through the links and get to know some of these great folks and the very cool projects they are working on. I can only hope you learn as much from them as I have.
One day last September, I received an interesting email out of the blue from someone named Lisa who had stumbled across a blog post of mine. She asked me whether I had ever lived in Indiana as a child. I was born in West Lafayette, Indiana.
As it turns out, Lisa was my neighbor and childhood best friend. I moved to Kansas City, Missouri at age 5 and had lost touch with her until I received this email, almost 35 years later.
As Lisa and I caught up, we learned we each had book publishing in the blood. Lisa is a Senior Publicist at Pearson in Indianapolis. I spent the first five years of my career as a literary agent and editor. In one email to her, I mentioned that I had been thinking of going back to my publishing roots and actually writing a book of my own. Lisa introduced me to Rick Kuhgen, an Executive Editor at Pearson. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was writing.
So I’d like to thank my childhood friend and current publicist, Lisa Jacobsen-Brown, without whom this book would probably still be something I was thinking about doing… eventually. I’d also to thank Rick Kuhgen, a true writer’s editor—responsive, thoughtful, and with a hint of poetry to his own words.
I’ve benefitted from the wisdom and friendship of many wonderful people along the journey.
Thanks first to Maggie, my source of energy. This book would have never been possible without you.
Thanks to my mother and father, who I hope see parts of themselves in me and in this book.
Thanks to my sister, Erika, who has been a great friend and confidant ever since she quit telling on me.
To Matthew Szulik, my mentor and friend, for letting the best ideas win. To Jonathan Opp for helping me find a voice. To David Burney, for opening my eyes and making me a designer. To Matt Muñoz, for always bringing optimism and passion.
To Jeff Mackanic, for your friendship and for quietly, consistently making everything happen. To Rebecca Fernandez, for bringing value before words. To DeLisa Alexander, for your faith and friendship.
To Tom Rabon and Elizabeth Hipps, for making each day at New Kind better than the last.
To all of my friends from the Red Hat nation, past and present, around the world. Special thanks to the Red Hat Brand Communications + Design team, a group of the most talented folks I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside.
To Kevin Keller, for your wise advice, guidance, and contributions.
To Michele Zanini, Polly LaBarre, Gary Hamel, and the team at the Management Innovation Exchange for introducing me to a new set of friends.
To Bob Young, Lisa Sullivan, Michael Tiemann, and Donnie Barnes, who were open when open wasn’t cool.
To Greg DeKoenigsberg, Jeremy Hogan, Chris Blizzard, Paul Frields, and Max Spevack, who know more about inspiring communities than I ever will.
To Kevin Trapani and Dan Moore, for inspiring us to consider a better way.
To Alina Wheeler and Jelly Helm, for perspective, at the right time.
To the rest of the Pearson team, especially Seth Kerney, Megan Wade, and Bill Camarda, for all of your hard work bringing this book to life.
And finally, thanks to my other friends who don’t give a crap about brands, ad-free or not. You know who you are, and I appreciate everything you do.
Well folks, there are gonna be some changes around here in 2010. So let me cut to the chase.
After 10 1/2 years, I’m leaving my full-time position with the greatest open source company in the world later this month.
This was no easy call. Red Hat has been a fantastic ride. I’ll spare you the trip down memory lane, but Red Hat has been the defining job of my career.
I certainly wouldn’t leave Red Hat to join another big company. In fact, thanks to DeLisa Alexander, my wonderful boss, and Jeff Mackanic, my long-time partner in running the Brand Communications + Design group, I’m going to continue to work with Red Hat– just in a different capacity. More on this later.
I’ve always wanted to start my own company, see how entrepreneurship fits, and have never had a good opportunity before. In 2010 I believe we are entering one of the most exciting opportunities for entrepreneurs in decades. I aim to give it a go.
As folks who’ve been reading Dark Matter Matters know, I have a deep interest in seeing how the lessons of open source might be applied to companies outside of the technology industry. I’m excited about taking some of the principles we’ve used to build brand, culture, and community the open source way at Red Hat and finding other companies who could use them too.
To that end, the news that won’t be a surprise to folks who know me well: I’ve decided to join up with two of my best friends, David Burney and Matt Munoz, who have spent the last year building a new kind of communications firm– New Kind.
David and I have worked together for almost 10 years, first when he owned Burney Design and was Red Hat’s creative agency partner, then as my boss at Red Hat for 4+ years. And, of course, he and I still play together in our band The Swingin’ Johnsons.
Matt and I first met while he was working on the Red Hat account at CapStrat. He was an early architect of the modern Red Hat brand identity, leading projects like the Red Hat brand book and the Fedora logo design.
As for New Kind, we have a lot of ideas.
So rather than stretching this post too long, I’ll promise to continue to share my ideas here at Dark Matter Matters if you promise to continue to read.
Thanks to my amazing Red Hat family, especially my brothers and sisters in the Brand Communications + Design team, for 10 great years. The hardest part of this decision was knowing I would no longer be sitting beside you five days a week.
Happy new year, and thanks to each of you for making the first year of Dark Matter Matters a special one.
A New Kind awaits!
My friend Jeff Mackanic pointed me to this article from last month’s Wired Magazine where Kevin Kelly makes the assertion that there is a “new socialism” emerging in the form of large-scale collaboration projects online. He discusses contributions to Wikipedia, Flickr, even Red Hat’s own Fedora as examples of village-sized or greater online collective work.
In the context of my recent post regarding what Ayn Rand would think of open source, I think Kevin makes a leap where I might not follow him.The clue is right in the article:
…the leaders of the new socialism are extremely pragmatic. A survey of 2,784 open source developers explored their motivations. The most common was “to learn and develop new skills.” That’s practical. One academic put it this way (paraphrasing): The major reason for working on free stuff is to improve my own damn software. Basically, overt politics is not practical enough.
Where Kevin Kelly reaches the conclusion that contributors working together to “improve [their] own damn software” is a new form of socialism in action, I might take the view instead that this is a new form of individualism.
A form of individualism where people are free to pursue their own self interests, yet do so in such a way that they are still in harmony with those around them. The goal of open source developers is individual pursuit, as the paragraph above from the article makes clear… yet a byproduct of these individual pursuits is a collective good: better software, a better enyclopedia, etc.
If it was socialism, the collective good would be the end goal of everyone. But ultimately, the open source model is based on the individual working for the good of himself in harmony with others, not on being a mindless cog in a much bigger wheel.
But I’m no philosophy expert, what do you think?
Jeff Mackanic passed on an interesting post from new Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz. The money quote:
Finally, a note about our brand. It’s one of our biggest assets. Mention Yahoo! practically anywhere in the world, and people yodel. But in the past few years, we haven’t been as clear in showing the world what the Yahoo! brand stands for. We’re going to change that. Look for this company’s brand to kick ass again.
Wow. Even I wouldn’t use the word “ass” in my blog (or would I???). But clearly she feels strongly– Yahoo’s brand has fallen a long way since its heyday. Our internal brand survey data shows that even little ol’ Red Hat has surpassed Yahoo, at least among business audiences, as a defining technology company.
So what happened? She’s right– Yahoo lost its way. But I still have a soft spot for Yahoo, one of the first big Internet brands, and wish Bartz the best of luck with the rehabilitation. The Rx? One dose of Jack Trout & Al Ries, followed by Jim Collins & Jerry Porras, taken with a 12 oz glass of water on a full stomach. Call me in the morning, let me know how you feel.