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“You can observe a lot just by watching.”

That, of course, is one of the many memorable quotes from Yogi Berra – and one of the concepts I try to employ on a daily basis. Here are a few items and observations I’ve been watching (and reading) over the past couple weeks. Hope you find them as interesting as I do.

Siri-ously creepy – Am I the only one who is completely “creeped out” by the ads for the iPhone that doubles as a friend? You know, the one with Zooey Deschanel who looks out the window, sees that it’s raining, then asks her phone, “Is that rain?” Or the one with John Malkovich (see below) who asks his phone to tell him a joke? Really? Maybe you DO need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.  And maybe you don’t need actual human contact when you’ve got a friend like that in your phone. And while I don’t think we’re ever going to return to the days when local lodge meetings are the center of our social universe, there is something to be said for people actually getting together to help each other and their communities – and for organizations like fraternals who give them the opportunity to do so.

The Facebook business model – Check out this post from our friends at Raddon on the viability of advertising on Facebook. Food for thought, if nothing else…

Insight on the looming tax debate – Want a little value-added information from your membership in the Alliance? Click on this link to read the latest news on prospects for reform of the U.S. Tax Code in a bitterly partisan environment.

Other news on charity and taxationHere’s a little more on the issue from a recent edition of The Economist. The history behind deductions and tax exemptions is fascinating.

What does it mean to be “great?” – Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great and Great by Choice, among other business bestsellers, should know. And in this article from the June issue of “Inc.” magazine, he sheds some light on the three qualities of “great” companies:

  • Superior performance in your arena – In business the measure is financial – return on invested capital.  (I can hear many of you out there saying “this doesn’t apply because we are a not-for-profit organization with a social mission.” My response: no money, no mission.)
  • Great companies make a distinctive impact – If your society disappeared, would it leave a hole not easily filled by any other enterprise on the planet? Share with me, in exact terms, what voids would be created if your society disappeared that another could not fill.
  • Endurance – Great companies last beyond any product cycle, any individual leader, and still maintain the above two characteristics.

Oh, did I mention that Jim Collins will be a featured speaker at the Alliance’s 2012 Annual Meeting? Click here to register for the event.  And share your own observations by posting a comment here…

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