Career Strategies Dec 30 2010

Look to H-P's Hurd, Wiki's Assange for 2011 Resolutions

By kyle stock

2010 is down to the dregs. But before we raise a forbidden Four Loko, let's take some time to make some New Year's resolutions.

In the news, there were major coups, devastating gaffes and a lot of lessons to be learned:

1. Build a network of devoted confederates.

Say what you like about the ethics of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange's brainchild was devastatingly successful in its primary goal: to be one of the top stories of the year. How the odd Aussie accomplished this feat should not be lost on any of us worker bees. Through a mix of mission, force of personality and old-fashioned mischief, Assange deputized a savvy, super-loyal team of tech gurus. Then he made complicit a number of media outlets to propagate his product and ideas.

Anyone who has ever worked on a personal brand or angled for network effects should take note.

The entire affair, however, was a nightmare for its targets, which leads us to resolution No. 2...

2. Mind your paper-trail

The diplomats backpedaling on WikiLeaked memos learned this lesson the hard way. So did Mark Hurd, who lost the top office at H-P after a string of fishy expense reports tied to his alleged paramour came to light -- along with sexual harrasment allegations.

Hurd, however, landed on his feet. He jumped to Oracle, where he is president, while HP's board squabbled with shareholders.

3. Pay attention to cyber-security

Stuxnet, a computer worm designed to target industrial facilities like power and water plants, drove this point home in 2010. The virus was allegedly loosed on nuclear sites in Iran.

Google, meanwhile, vowed to quit China, turning its back on the world's biggest market after suffering a cyber attack in that country. The search-engine giant eventually made a compromise, but not before shifting some of its China traffic to uncensored versions of its site in Hong Kong.

4. Choose your competitors wisely

The bigger they come, the harder they are to beat. One of the year's flops was Google's "Buzz," an attempt to enter the social media market dominated by Twitter and Facebook. You can read a story about it here (in case you've never heard of it before).

Google wasn't the only company to miss the social media mark. Apple's Ping, a music-focused social-networking offering, barely made a sound.

5. If you can't find a new opportunity, make one

As the iPod market grew saturated and the newness wore off the iPhone, Steve Jobs and co. unleashed the iPad in January. Billed as a "middle" device between a smart phone and a computer, the tablet did not sway the technoscenti as much as earlier Apple offerings. But consumers didn't care what cranky gurus said; they snapped up 7.5 million iPads by October.

Write to Kyle Stock

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