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Stuff of the Month

Web sites, a book about pride, the new iPod, and Randall Rothenberg’s take on Madison Avenue’s Ad of the Month.

Book : Show Me The Pride

Money may make the world go round, but it’s not what makes people tick — and it’s certainly not what makes them shine. That’s the very basic but almost universally disrespected idea at the heart of Jon Katzenbach’s new book, Why Pride Matters More Than Money: The Power of the World’s Greatest Motivational Force (Crown Business, 2003). Katzenbach has boiled down the insights from nearly 50 years of close interaction with what he calls “peak-performing organizations” into one important and richly relevant argument: “People who are emotionally committed to something . . . behave in ways that defy logic and often produce results that are well beyond expectations. They pursue impossible dreams, work ridiculous hours, and resolve unsolvable problems.”

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According to Katzenbach, top executives and professionals follow an “economic logic” in their work and careers. A more “emotional logic” animates the performance of frontline workers who want to know, Am I making a difference? This book is in tune with the central mandate of leaders today: to replicate the “magic” of natural “manager motivators” and cultivate the energies of workers everywhere in the organization. Polly LaBarre

Web : Summer Site Seeing

Boom! www.fireworks.com Even if you’re not in the market for industrial-strength fireworks, the Phantom Fireworks site is still worth a look. Head to the site’s Fun Zone, where you can put on your very own virtual fireworks extravaganza. Set your favorite city as a backdrop, crank up the sound, and have yourself a dazzling Independence Day celebration whenever you want.

Intelligent Travel www.ijet.com
Between the SARS outbreak, tensions in the Middle East, and the French, traveling abroad this summer may seem more like work than play. But have no fear. For $9.95 per day, you can rent an international cell phone from iJet Travel Intelligence that comes preconfigured to receive real-time travel advisories. And friends can call to reach you in case of emergency — or just to say hi.

Loop-D-Loop www.ultimaterollercoaster.com
Go here to find reviews on the scariest rides around, to see photos of conquered steel giants, and to swap motion-sickness war stories with other roller-coaster enthusiasts. And if you want more, check out the site’s souvenirs section, which sells video games, DVDs, hats, and T-shirts.

Gear : Play Thing

Whether you call it a piece of art or a tech toy, Apple’s latest gotta-have-it lands somewhere between Bauhaus and Jetson. One 30 GB iPod holds 7,500 songs, which translates to about 650 CDs, or three weeks’ worth of nonstop beats. That means that your complete collection of Frank Zappa and Rolling Stones albums won’t even make a dent. Gee-whiz features include customizable menus, a backlight, and a sexy interface tool (“navigation wheel”) that is God’s gift to opposable thumbs. Plus, there’s a slew of upgrades that allow you to plug into nearly anything with an electrical current. Recently released in tandem with the online iTunes Music Store — which boasts over 200,000 songs for a subscription-free 99 cents a pop — the new generation of iPods run $299 for 10 GB, $399 for 15 GB, and $499 for 30 GB. Pick one up at Apple’s Web site (www.apple.com) or in one of its stores. Lucas Conley

Randall Rothenberg : Ad of the Month

Honda’s “Cog”

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Let us now praise famous commercials! The history of advertising is sprinkled with individual spots that actually changed the fortunes of clients. “1984,” a Chiat/Day – Ridley Scott sci-fi satire, firmly established Apple’s Macintosh as the PC PC. Twenty years earlier, Doyle Dane Bernbach and Tony Schwartz created “Daisy” for Lyndon Johnson, and Barry Goldwater (whose nuclear trigger finger was the ad’s subject) never knew what hit him. Now Honda Motors and its British agency, Wieden & Kennedy, are pursuing the fame effect with “Cog,” their new two-minute video ad. In the age of spin, they have launched this single commercial across multiple platforms around the world and orchestrated a PR blitz that has led critics to deem it an “instant classic” and the news media to give it free play. “Cog” is technically dazzling; its complex stop-action photography depicts multiple parts of an Accord in delightful interaction. Rube Goldbergian, to be sure, with a whiff of Gumby and BattleBots thrown in. But the importance of “Cog” lies outside the screen. It’s the best recent example of a phenomenon bred in American politics: the spot in the spotlight. Contact Randall Rothenberg by email (rrothenberg@fastcompany.com).

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