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Innovation Blog

Get On the Lady Gaga Bus – Now!   What We Can All Learn from Stefani Germanotta

By Shlomo Maital

  Lady Gaga’s ‘meat’ dress

   If you believe the phenomenon known as Lady Gaga is not serious – think again!  We can all learn a great deal from her.  [See Jon Parels, “Lady Gaga’s Roaring Retort”, NYT May 21/22/2011, p. 17]. 

    Most albums are recorded in soundproof high-tech studios, where electronic wizardry shapes
songs to perfection. This is how it is done. This is the rule.  Rent time in a studio and make your

   But not Lady Gaga.  She has just released her new album, “Born This Way”. Released in February, reached No. 1.  She made it while on tour, in her Studio Bus.  This is an extra bus filled with equipment and comprising a recording studio on wheels.  Her engineer and two producers travelled with her on tour for a whole year.  “Basically, after the shows [back-breaking energy-draining two-hour shows], I would go on the Studio Bus and I would work all night.  Then we would pull the buses over and I would get back on my bus and go to sleep.” 

    Of course all the experts argued with her.  “We can’t do your vocals now!”, because of the sound of the bus and the reverberations.  Said Lady Gaga:  “turn on the mike and let’s do this!  I get so inspired and ready to go and I’m not the kind of person that can hold in my creativity. … Because of the thrill of the show and the crowd’s energy…I get so many ideas looking out into the crowd, like:  I know what you want to hear. I know what you need.” 

    Lady Gaga is a powerful innovator.  Have you noticed that music videos are choreographed to move on the 2nd and 4th beats of 4/4 time?  Like – da DAH, da DAH…   Not Lady Gaga. She moves on the 1st and 3rd beats,  DAH da,  DAH da.  Partly for that reason, radio stations refused for six months to playher first single, Just Dance.  But she

    Make no mistake.  Stefani Germanotta is a 24-7 performer.  She says her very life is “performance
art”.  But at bottom she is an innovative musician.  She never lip-syncs.  And she writes her songs to meet what she understands her fans want and need – and she knows what they want, because she interacts with them almost every single night.
    For innovators, a major lesson from Lady Gaga is to create the equivalent of her Studio Bus.  Get your R&D people out of their sterile labs and into the real world.  Get them to interact with the people who might or will use the stuff they create.  Get them on the Lady Gaga bus.  And, for a start, play one of her albums for your innovators.  Despite what you think when you look at her fantastic costumes (like the famous ‘meat’ dress), beneath them there is the heart of a true passionate musician.        


Global Crisis Blog

Stop the Hypocrisy: The Emperor Has No Dollars (Clothes)

By Shlomo Maital


The famous Hans Christian Andersen’s story “the Emperor’s New Clothes” is about two weavers who promise the emperor a new suit of clothes invisible to those who are stupid or incompetent.  Only a small child is honest enough to call out, “but he isn’t wearing anything at all.”

   The modern-day equivalent of that child is economist Cristina Romer, formerly head of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors.  Cut the bull, she says.  America’s current fiscal and monetary policy are both aimed squarely at depreciating the dollar.  And it has worked. The dollar has dropped sharply.  However, for political reasons,everyone from Obama, to Geithner (Treasury Secretary) to Bernanke (Fed Chairman), to Republican Members of Congress, to Democrat Members of Congress, all bleat the same refrain, like sheep:
American wants a strong dollar!  America wants a strong dollar! 

    It gets worse. America insists that China revalue its currency and let it appreciate relative to the dollar.  That means, necessarily, a lower value of the dollar.  But if this is a good idea for U.S.-China trade, notes Romer, why not for America’s trade with all nations?  Why not let the dollar drop relative to all currencies?  Why
isn’t a WEAKER dollar good for America, rather than a strong dollar? 

     The hypocrisy of U.S. appointed and elected officials is increasingly unbearable.  Economics at Grade One level says:  If you dump huge amounts of dollars into the marketplace, through enormously expansive monetary policy and so-called ‘quantitative easing’ (printing money), and through huge unprecedented fiscal deficits, then the supply of dollars will ultimate lower the price and value of dollars.  It’s that simple.  Yet Americans consistently support this policy while denying its implacable result – a lower dollar.

    Cut the bull!  America needs a cheaper dollar to dig itselfout of the current economic hole. Everyone knows it.  Admit it.  Stop the hypocrisy.  But also admit that a weakened dollar will hurt other countries, export some of America’s economic woes, and possibly help create a new global crisis, because the global economy cannot run well with an unstable world currency (the diving dollar). 

     Tell the truth, America.  A weaker dollar is good for America, bad for the rest of the world.  Guess which America will favor — while, all the while, denying it?   

*Cristina Romer, “It’stime for frank talk on the dollar”,  Global NY Times, May 21/22, 2011

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital
May 2011
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