Chapter 10

Signature: Make It Your Own

All the leaders we studied . . . were nonconformists in the best sense. . . . They didn't let external pressures, or even social norms, knock them off course. In an uncertain and unforgiving environment, following the madness of the crowds is a good way to get killed.

—Jim Collins

Starting back in the mid-1990s, the little company my father and I had started, Targeted Learning Corporation, had been producing and delivering training and education for government and businesses using the space-age magic of satellite technologies. We were forging a path in the market of providing video-based learning to the desktop. The original idea was pretty simple: bring talented instructors into television studios, broadcast live learning to orbiting satellites, and then charge per view for organizations to “downlink” the events and participate. Audiences could call and fax into the program in real time to ask questions.

When the dot-com era started ramping up in the late 1990s, and early video-streaming providers, such as, came with it, we had video content ready to be digitized and delivered online. TLC was a dynamic and agile little company that had survived the wake of the dot-com boom and bust and was growing. Our first attempt in 2000 at creating a library of online video content was pretty clunky, but it worked.

Late in 2003, nearly all eight of us at TLC were sitting around a table in a cabin in Yarmouth, Maine, to work on our new technology ...

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