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Monday, September 29, 2008

Awards for SEMICONs

We are thrilled to see that SEMICON trade shows have been recognized as the leading global brand by the publishers of Trade Show Executive at the magazine's inaugural 'Gold 100' Awards ceremony.

This is a big deal.

As the first year for the show, they could have chosen the CES show, CeBit, auto shows in Detroit or Tokyo, etc. but they chose SEMICON. The reasons are because no other global event brand has been so successful over time, or in so many markets. Many trade shows have tried to extend into different markets—Nepcon comes to mind in our industry—but they’ve failed miserably. SEMICONs are unique in the world of expositions in that every serious person in the world of semiconductor equipment and materials is deeply familiar and loyal to their regional SEMICON.

Obviously, credit goes to Stan Myers and his predecessors at SEMI, and also to Dan Martin and Vicki Hadfield, who have managed the brand through the difficult post dot-com period. The folks who came before them and the anchor exhibitors who have developed and supported the brand are also fundamental to SEMICONs’ success.

Understanding this strong heritage, the current team at SEMI is doing our best to sustain the value of the brand and the SEMICON shows. We were recently awarded first place in Brand Design/Development (for large events) by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) in their annual Art of the Show Competition for the SEMICON and FPD brand identity system. The Art of the Show Competition recognizes excellence in promotional materials for the exhibitions and events industry. It includes 13 different categories of competition, spanning three show sizes.

While IAEE has many awards for marketing and design, we consider this award the premier recognition for marketing excellence because it encompasses all the elements of effective brand management--from creative execution of brochures, e-marketing, onsite decoration, and other design elements, to messaging and positioning of our value proposition. What is especially noteworthy in our brand system is the complex and collaborative execution across all SEMI expositions throughout the world, involving all our regional offices. It leverages world class design from a Best-of-Breed agency, while cost effectively implemented across thousands of projects through in-house creative staff, multiple vendors in show decoration and project design, and local teams in all our regional offices.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A Crisis in Leadership

You may have heard that the solar energy investment tax credit (ITC) is being caught up in legislative and party politics and many observers think they are doomed until a new Congress convenes in 2008.

Some $500 million in investment and production tax credits will expire Dec. 31 without the renewed ITC. Without the credit, many renewable energy projects, including two solar power plants that will generate about 800 megawatts of power, won’t be built. In fact, Navigant Consulting estimated that investments in wind and solar power in 2009 would amount to $26.6 billion with the credits, but would crash to $7 billion without them.

According to an AP article, Schott Solar plans to add 1,500 jobs and $500 million in investment are in large part dependent on the ITC. The Solar Energy Industries Association says some 20 utility-scale solar power plants are at risk because of the uncertainty in Congress.

Both Democrats and Republicans say they are in favor of the credits. By themselves, they are not controversial. Like a lot of issues—especially in our industry—good policies get caught up in partisan politics and the legislative meat grinder. The US Congress is so dysfunctional, they would prefer to hold the ITC hostage rather than yield an election advantage to the other side. They are unable move forward on good policies, they are unable to compromise, unable to govern. It’s something we see at SEMI every year, with every administration, for the past twenty years.

This kind of unconscionable legislative inaction is, in my opinion, part of a large crisis in leadership in the US. Every institution that made America great has devolved into self-interested obscurity, unwilling and unable to play a leadership role in society. Look at Wall Street: eight years after the dot com crash we have the mortgage meltdown and liquidity crisis, both events underscored by near universal, institutionalized, greed-fueled larceny. The financial industry sucks the best and brightest from the best universities into what is essentially a ponzi scheme, where fraudulent value is created and passed down a chain. What role is Wall Street playing today in the big questions of the day: deficits, taxes, human capital, industrial policy? They have no collective role. There is no Wall Street. It’s just individual companies with a self interest.

What about the military? Iraq. Afghanistan. Good job there, guys. Now, stay out of politics.

Education? What university president has a prominent voice on the issues of the day? Do teachers unions care about students?

How about the professions? Is the medical establishment really concerned about health care? Are any textbook journalistic practices relevant in big business media?

I’m just old enough to think that 30 years ago there was a prominent leadership class in all these institutions that was civic minded, independent and courageous. That generation could balance that needs of stockholders, employees and society at large. Everyone knew there was a "greater good" that needed nurturing and managing.

Today, I sense there no such balancing going on. It’s all about what's in it for me, my career and my company. That might be good for some of us, some of the time--but it’s horrific for all us, all of the time.