Monday, November 28, 2011

Does Phil seem a little out of sorts?

Self sufficiency as expressed in this ad

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Choice Modelling: The effect of influencers in joint decisions

This is a pos I wrote in the beginning of December at the Australia/New Zealand Marketing Academy Conference. I think this "advances in choice modelling" will be the most interesting session here at #ANZMAC2011. This one I've just seen uses the latest techniques to identify the relative influence of two consumers in a joint decision. Fully operationalised and applied using discrete choice methods with multiple experiments. Husband and wife decision processes on water quality.

Well played, Cam Rungie. I agree, this tool is great for testing hypotheses and developing theory. I agree also, this method lends itself brilliantly to understanding the influence process in wine choice. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Doritos Pug Attack ad

Thanks to prof Russell Belk at #ANZMAC2011 for this gem:

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Kylie and Gotye: Great choices at Arias

I'm proud that Kylie Minogue is Australian and when I first heard Gotye I thought I'd gone back twenty years to Peter Gabriel's brilliance:

That's a good thing, how good is this?

Hugh Laurie: The Type of Genius I Like

Hugh plays blues. The word is polymath and my heroes Leonardo DaVinci, Galileo and now Dr House are on the list. Yes I know it's just a TV show.

Galileo, king of night vision, king of insight.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

The 4G trial has proven useful today

You might remember I did a trial for Telstra for their 4G broadband wireless network?

Well I've come to Perth for a conference and it's working brilliantly here. Here's when I dropped into the office this morning to pick it up. Thousands of miles and a day away now.

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Well Dressed Customer: Today Tonight Last Week

I was asked by the Uni of Adelaide marketing and comms people if I'd front for a TV session. I'm always apprehensive about this, and more so when asked to comment on stuff that is not really my research area, other than the way it's general marketing.

So the least I could do was hunt through the literature to see what academia has done about this. Unfortunately none of this turned up in the spot. Still, I can put it here.

Dress up, get better service in a fashion store. Perhaps a no-brainer. Today Tonight put together a one-shot TV experiment. Two nice women,dressed differently go into retail stores and get different levels of service. Switch them, dress one down and the other up, reverse the service levels.

I suppose I have some practical experience to draw on. Haven't we all worked retail before? In a menswear store in Prospect and older Italian guy straight from the produce market at 10am pulled out a pile of cash and peeled off notes after I'd spent an hour with him selecting some clothes.

But there are dozens of studies that have looked at it. The strongest argument comes from "social identity theory" - that people gravitate to those they are closest to. As a bit of an empiricist I like this little marketing letters study from 2000 - "Will You Help Me Please? The Effects of Race, Gender and Manner of Dress on Retail Service". The only problem - as with much research, mixed pictures.

To be honest, their results didn't strongly support a "dressing" effect - in fact the raw waiting times increased for a well dressed woman, and decreased for a well dressed man and that's a whole other (important) issue. This little study has a few weaknesses though, they had a whole bunch of extraneous variables - number of people in the store, how many registers were open etc.

As always, data can be recalcitrant. None of this picture - of course - made it to the "pretty woman" TT story, but that wasnt really their purpose. It was a fun story and im glad they asked me. And it fed the hungry beast for a while.

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bad Business Model, Winners are Grinners and History is Written by the Victors

I simply can't find any google results for a South Australian company that still existed in the early 90s that went by the name of Titan Electronics. I watched it through its last years - it eventually died and is now a ghost. One day on a clean out I'll find some old business cards from 1989 and the logo (a pink a black pair of squares) won't be lost forever. More about me and Titan later.

But the sister company, Practel appears to not have died, just morphed into something less. And according to a couple of insiders there were some crazy internal politics - the cancer was eventually cut out but not before the owner had lost his company and the cancer popped up somewhere else, since building a nice little career.

But fresh out of trade school in military electronics manufacturing, Titan Electronics employed me as a sales rep on $18,000 per year, threw me the keys to an XF Falcon, a petrol card, a list of companies that had bought in the last four years and told me they didn't want to see me in the office between 8.30am and 4pm. Remember this was the days before email, and even mobile phones. So the brief was essentially "cold call these guys who have once bought from us, and anyone else you see." Still they gave me the opportunity to learn and I won't be ungrateful for that. Special mention to Mark Tilka, later Max Beacom (RSB), Rod Davis (Cryovac), and Larry Lockshin (UniSA) for opening some doors a crack.

Titan was a business that traded on local representation. Opened - I think - in 1982, way before even fax machines. A whole bunch of eastern states manufacturers and importers of electronic wire and cable saw South Australia as a bit of a problem. They knew there was some volume here but nowhere near enough to set up an office. Little has changed really, has it? But Neville Woodcock offered a solution to these guys. Like the confectionery wholesaler with a folder full of products that can supply a milk bar, Titan Electronics had a bunch of manufacturers and importers who were happy to give Neville some discount - or not - in exchange for local representation. And then, with a heap of bravado and the benefit of some asymmetric information, the sales guy would travel around and get some orders.

Rojone (AP imports), Hartland Cables and about 15 other businesses got some volume they wouldn't normally have, and Neville made a few bucks. In reflection I can see a few bugs here:
  • Middlemen seldom create enough value to pay a wage (more so these days)
  • The principals that were at a disadvantage were the ones interested (Rojone imported milspec connectors ($4 vs 25cents) and Hartland Cables were Australian Manufacturers (say no more)
  • Often the sales were made to buyers who didn't know better
So, by 1989 when I left AWA Defence Industries and embarked on my illustrious sales career, the world was on the cusp of a new order. Companies were realising they could pick up the phone, give some credit card details and get the product a few days later. ffs the name of our supplier was written on the boxes they got! Faxes were in. Oh and there was the matter of the State Bank disaster and the global recession following the 1987 crash. (Australian GFC refugees you ain't seen nothin').

So for all of 1990 this 22 year old schlepped around Adelaide electronics manufacturers (lol) looking for the nugget of huge volume, with a manufacturer who wouldn't deal direct and was willing to pay a 20% premium to have the product travel through the Titan warehouse. That's correct - more expensive and slower.

We managed the odd few, Julie Sibenaler and myself managed to lever $20,000 of triaxial cable into the (then just being built) entertainment centre, $10,000 of uninterruptible power supplies into Co-Operative Security Services. Neville himself scored $20k of UPS into Suburban Taxis.

Still, a year of feeding on scraps and a little corporate charity took me to a Friday in February 1991 the new sales manager (Mark had been sacked) said "we need to go upstairs".

The line was "[sales manager] has followed up some of your contacts and converted some sales. We've made continual suggestions to you for the last three weeks and it appears you haven't followed them. We're advertising your job tomorrow, and we will be trying someone else out in your position"

Poor little me "ok, no problems, and my job will now be to..?"

"no, no Cullen, you don't get it. We'll be trying someone else in your job"


And the story has never changed. They weren't interested in my thoughts about the nature of their troubles, and why would they be? It wasn't my job to structure the business, it was mine to cold call people who'd bought us once and anyone else I saw. Oh, and generate $100k per month doing that. I failed.

So the two outtakes:
  • Winners are grinners, losers please yourselves
  • History is written by the victors

But on reflection I would include the modifier "in the short term". The person who won the job at Titan that Saturday was a grinner, I'm sure, in the short term. And those two guys at Titan got to write their version of events for a while. But these days the business is dead, the owner is picking up odd contracts for industrial supplies office doing sales training and [sales manager] - well he seems to be doing alright, somewhere else.

And long term history gets written in a range of ways, more than simply by the victor of any given battle.

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Ideas that spread, win

Sliced bread was not a success until someone marketed it. And the TV industrial complex is broken

And the curious people are important, not because there's a lot of them, but because they're the ones talking to those in a stupor, caught in the middle

And talking to some bright students "you're gonna do something special. We don't know what it is, we don't have the formula. But you're gonna do it and everyone else is gonna copy you. But you have to decide first


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Thursday, November 24, 2011

A fighting retreat is the most dangerous and difficult military play

I heard Harry Gordon in Conversation with Richard Fidler, and he's talking about the war in Korea.

The words "fighting retreat" came up and it reminds me of the many stories I've heard of military tactics. The most difficult and dangerous manoevre is to relinquish ground without being completely destroyed.

The old story - it's hard to face an enemy when you're running away from them.

Another story. In Kokoda where a bunch of young volunteer kids were stuck at the top of a hellish track against the strongest tropical army in the world - outnumbered and 96km from their base of supply. The Japanese rolled over them and under kindly old soldier Sam Templeton (who died in the campaign) they had to teach themselves how to fight a retreat.

The Maroubra force fought that retreat right back 80km - Isurava, Eora Creek, Efogi until the Japanese could see the lights of Port Moresby from Ioribaiwa. I've been there twice - the pain and discomfort of the place is beyond description, and I was on the tourist circuit!

A fighting retreat requires brains, courage and teamwork. It requires the front guys to hold their position and punch above their weight while their buddies clear out. Then the guys who dropped back need to stop, turn around and place themselves in danger rather than keep running all the way back to safety.

(The 39th Battalion AMF on Parade)                   

To successfully relinquish ground requires courage and teamwork. And you can only achieve it if you are shoulder to shoulder with people of the highest moral fibre and spirit.

Oh, and of course the Kokoda story ended with the Australians fighting all the way back up the track and forcing the Japanese out of New Guinea.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

High impact obtrusive advertising on iPad

When Ervin and myself did that work on ad obtrusiveness last year we found that interruption was about four times more effective than repetition, and we controlled for impact.

But impact matters, that's why we controlled for it. Look at what I just got as an interstitial (between content pages) on the Advertiser iPad app.

Brilliant design.

Legend in flexographic printing, Frank van Ekeren (at Cryovac Sealed Air) knew how important it as to work with the limitations of your medium. With flexo the medium was effectively high speed rubber stamps on plastic and the design needed to be bold with big blocks of colour and simple messages. With these interstitials you're dealing with that 0.25 seconds before the reader swipes it, and are similarly constrained.

The use of black, the low prominence of the brand, the hook, the incomplete logic of the message. It got a few more seconds out of me. Not a clickthrough but it's a numbers game. Maybe somebody else now, maybe me on the next, or the next, viewing.

And on another point. A "swipe back" function is probably handy for these things. The number of times I've swiped the ad off, then gone to go back but it's disappeared. What?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Reject Fear, Reject the "fight or flight" reflex

I like this idea. As Seth Godin's blog spoke about the lizard brain:
"The lizard is a physical part of your brain, the pre-historic lump near the brain stem that is responsible for fear and rage and reproductive drive. Why did the chicken cross the road? Because her lizard brain told her to.

Want to know why so many companies can't keep up with Apple? It's because they compromise, have meetings, work to fit in, fear the critics and generally work to appease the lizard. Meetings are just one symptom of an organization run by the lizard brain. Late launches, middle of the road products and the rationalization that goes with them are others."

I came to think a long time ago that true freedom only came when we let go of our fears. Easier said than done, of course.

Reject fear.

Nippy's: Good on them

As a kid growing up in Northern suburbs Adelaide in the 1970s/80s I developed an early love for Nippy's product. A 99% orange juice and that great lemon juice in the Para Hills High School canteen and DSTO tradeschool spots - really good.

So I've watched the company negotiate the ravages of the last 40 years - general downturn in riverland citrus, drought, flood, a food safety scare, recent high Aussie dollar.

I'm delighted to see Nippy's have won a big contract for Woolies. When I saw Jeff Knispel on tv last night I was reminded of a lovely guy that owned a business called "Kangarra" - an honest, hardworking Renmark guy.

So this contract means that there'll be more Riverland citrus getting onto Australian supermarket shelves, and under an Australian owned label.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Activism echoes through the decades: Again with US forces?

Could never never understand all the words so when I saw the lyrics just then I thought how similar the temperament was to that, now, of "occupy" and this is probably not much different to similar movements of the 1960s.

Will you know it when you see it
High risk children, dogs of war
Now market movements call the shots
Business deals in parking lots
Waiting for the meat of tomorrow

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Anti nuclear: Well spoken wrong

This is cringeworthy and almost looks like beating up on people who don't deserve it. But what makes it cringeworthy is how the scientists are respectful, and inquisitive and allowed the logic of the anti nuclear message to be spoken. I think there are possibly good arguments to be made against nuclear power, but I'd like to see them made. Leading a chant is a poor substitute.

An important transition from university activism often shows up in these young people tottering around like Bambi, putting on embarrassing performances as shown above. I see Sarah Hanson-Young do this from time to time, her Q&A performance was priceless.

There are many good people who emerge from this mindless activism to do very good things for the world. But as with Meg Lees pushing through a GST, they also get more sensible. And then they hit new walls and as with my much adored Janine Haynes (or less adored Don Chipp), Alex Downer or Lindsay Tanner, they just tire of it and leave.

here's one who seems to have made the transition well enough. Kate Ellis. She's my local member and I first heard her when she debated (was is Trisha Worth, Trish White?) on local ABC radio. She was a little fresh and struggled against Trish's age superiority play. But I think she has been head down and on with it since she got in - she does seem to keep getting better.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday Relaxer: Peter Garrett in his other (and better) guise

Burdened with the responsibility of actually doing stuff, ideologues will often find themselves choking on words they said 25 years earlier.

Given, Peter Garrett's semantic gymnastics have been some of the best ever, but let's spare a thought for when the angst of youth and the simplicity of raging against the machine allowed for classics such as this:

I expect that in 25 years, as some of the "occupiers" grind their way through an adequate life and a few enjoy the spoils of the machine, we might see similar amusing things.

I recall John Schumann (of angry young 70s band Redgum) on the radio a few years ago acknowledging that his "no overseas trade" position back then would have thwarted Australia, the Redgum were probably "on the worng side of the argument".

Disclosure - I was fully on board with Redgum and Midnight Oil in those heady days of the early 1980s. An angry, isolationist seventeen year old. I amuse myself, just as much.

UPDATE: the word "nihilist"comes to mind, which I'd always considered to mean "competing through the destruction of everything - much as Tony Abbott is being accused of - but the Wiki entry defines it as a sort of "existential anchorlessness". Still about right.

But in trawling through the youtube I ran across this piece of brilliance, about asbestos miners, knowing that their job is not a long term plan, that the job is probably killing them and that the people who pay them don't care. I found it a powerful song in the day, and it echoes.

"Nothing's as precious as a hole in the ground."

And I take this to be the guy just accepting that he'll die, but that life will go on..

"If the sugar refining company won't come to my rescue
Who's gonna save me?
We've got nothing to fear -
In the end the rain comes down...
washes clean the streets of the blue sky town"

Try, try again or change lanes?

Seth Godin's blog:
Early in our careers, we're encouraged to avoid failure, and one way we do that is by building up a set of emotions around failure, emotions we try to avoid, and emotions that we associate with the effort of people who fail. It turns out that this is precisely the opposite of the approach of people who end up succeeding.

If you believe that righteous effort leads to the shame of personal failure, you'll seek to avoid righteous effort.

Successful people analytically figure out what didn't work and redefine what their best work will be in the future. And then they get back to work.

I agree, mostly. But there's also the reality of asking "am I playing the right game for me" and thats what he deals with in "The Dip".

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, November 14, 2011

BlogPress you had the chance

Same old story. Don't make me seek alternatives. BlogPress was a great little app for iPhone/iPad. I'd even paid something for it I think.

Then with the iOS5 update BlogPress got buggy. The "manage" screen would drop out and when the screen rotates, it would crash. Quite a few time I have lost a page.

I sent the bug report two weeks ago. I just lost a little bit of writing from a similar crash, and it caused me to seek alternatives.

Now I have the official Google app. And BlogPress lost a user. I'm sure they don't care.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My tips about how to do an exam

I'm not giving away any secrets, but after 22 years of doing, setting and marking exams I can tell you there are some sensible "do and don't"s for doing exams in business courses. So here's what I had been saying to students in my two courses. The five points are more or less the same for both.

What I said in Management of Brands

What I said in Consumer Behaviour

Simply, just don't make it hard for the marker to give you the marks you deserve.

Why do you blog?

"What do you get out of the blog?its not as though some boss will see it, and say 'I need him to work for me'"

When a student put that to me last Friday, it gave me pause for thought. There are a number of answers to that question.

The first and strongest reason involves a story. On Macca in the morning I heard a great interview with Harry Vanda, legendary Easybeat and driving force behind John Paul Young. When Macca asked Harry "what, you still write music?" Harry answered "every day - its a bit like something else, it's gotta come out".

I've always entertained dreams of doing the Philip Satchel or Carole Whitelock job, ABC talkback radio presenter. It's unlikely to happen, but writing a blog means not entirely giving up on that dream.

I'm also not convinced that the blog is a waste of energy. I do believe in the idea of a person's personal brand.

I like the idea that if somebody really is interested "who on earth is that Cullen guy" they can find out.

I have what I call the Habel paradox. I am deep down a gregarious person but person to person communication makes me really tired. I'm not too bad at it, but hold myself to high standards. And personal communication is always a means to an end with me - achieve a student learning outcome, get a particular job done, score a particular work point. It seems like shifting emotions mine and others - around like pieces on a chess board. don't find personal communication relaxing, but I love to connect. Blog and Twitter gives me that connection with some great people in an asynchronous manner. And that makes the personal interactions I do have, better.

But mostly if you love doing something, you should do as much of it as you like. Colleagues might, do, say "don't waste your time with that shit, write a journal article and submit that. One journal article is worth a thousand blog entries to your career".

Correct. Or perhaps not. We don't really know what my carrier is, or will be. But I will be writing those journal articles.

I blog. I don't really know why - see my confusion above. But I enjoy it.

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hey Julie: Busy parts of the year. Having the family is good.

How have I gone for five years not finding out about this song. Thank goodness I have no Bob Kelso, but just watching an episode of Scrubs with the kids and got this, where JD got a new girlfriend. I have very little to complain about work-wise, so that's a bit overplayed in this song, but the feeling of coming home to some warmth is a nice one:

It's a nice little song, and it's easy to play on the guitar, just all the basic chords:

And some nice lyrics:

It's a nice tribute to a family (Sylvia included as well as inlaws), and I have a buddy who has a Julie, and would feel the same way, with a metaphorical 'daily grind'.


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Did you play with heart?

Watching junior tennis right now and pleased that my young guy is holding firm in his games. They fought back in doubles from 5-1 down to only lose 6-5 and in his singles he's held off a fightback after being 3-1 up, about 3-3 now.

And it reminds me of what's important as I congratulations. Did you play with a strong heart, did you play hard, but with respect for your opponent?

You'll always win some and lose some, but if you have a shoddy personality that will be your burden.

Oh, and he just won, 6-3. Bonus.

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Low stress revision for my students

My students in Management of Brands and Consumer Behaviour have their exams next week. One of the things I've told them they next to know about is this idea of double jeopardy in marketing.

If you want to chill, but still feel like you're studying, you could watch this video of Prof Sharp. The whole vid is good but if you're pressed for time you can zip straight to the nine minute mark.

And a little analogy that I heard Byron say (more or less) once:

"imagine a civil engineer had a passionate belief that they should build bridges out of cardboard. All the evidence has it that building bridges out of steel, or stone was a better idea, but this engineer was locked into the idea of cardboard. Would we think of that engineer as being good at their job"

Yet in poo-pooing the laws of marketing because they're just too inconvenient (ie buyers buy your brand amongst a bunch of others) many marketers and marketing academics are covering their ears la-la-la-la-la.

Like an engineer, passionate about building a bridge out of cardboard.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

"follow him anywhere" - what a boss

I spoke of leadership in this post about the floods and the fires and my thoughts go back to the meat game. I recall being savaged by a senior manager of a meat plant because our company had let them down over the crucial Christmas period, and I hadn't helped matters. I had thought "this guy must be an a*hole to work for" and allowed myself some solace in that.

Six months later I was having dinner with this guy's production managers - guys I respected - and I heard "I'd follow ***** anywhere - he's the best boss I've ever had" from more than one.

The manager had been acting as a corporate samurai, no fear or favour and no baggage as regards me. We developed a good relationship over the next seven years and I'm proud to know him. I've never forgotten that realisation - the boss was a legend because everybody else was saying so, not because he was spending all his time telling people how good he was. And the only way he had that happen was because he earnt it.

A neat little blog I just saw "Hey, Leader – Turn Around! Is Anyone Following You?"

If nobody is following you, you're not really a leader, you're just a person out taking a walk.

If you are leading others and you’re lonely, then you’re not doing it right.  Think about it. If you’re all alone, that means nobody is following you.  And if nobody is following you, then you’re not really leading. ~John Maxwell

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Bushido a great strength?

Bushido is my greatest strength and my greatest weakness?

I studied a martial art for two years. Jishukan (Honbu) Jujutsu, brown belt (bridesmaid not the bride - always a brown belt never a Dan).

But in that time I spent a great deal of time studying Japanese warrior culture, and I have since learnt that China has a strong warrior culture, too.

But I was taken, then, by the code of Bushido - the way of the warrior. That honour comes from putting your all into service. For the Samurai, that service was towards the lord - the sama of the moment. In response the lord would show impeccable fairness, honesty (with themselves and others) and loyalty. Well, that's how I saw it.

Some may disagree, but I'll argue that I have approached my work life from that perspective. I have worked to hone my tools of battle as well as I can, and have showed loyalty to those who have cut me a break and been pure of motive.

Fair enough, "Cullen Habel loyalty" can sometimes not be all that fun but I promise you I'm playing on your team. Even if I'm storming into your room, shutting the door and telling you how I see it, I am your samurai. Sorry if I'm just the Aussie version of it.

I thank the lord for my wife, who seems to see it in a similar way. I suspect the friendship is getting stretched, but I'm working on that.

But I sometimes get caught out. A growling match that ends in "well let's just call it off". That's a little foreign to me. As Rod Tidwell said to Jerry Maguire: "you think we're fighting, I say we're finally communicating"

But back to the samurai thing. A good warrior needs a good lord. And perhaps my error has been to tie in too firmly, perhaps too easily, and perhaps with the wrong people. But Kerry Packer would disagree: "I believe you offer loyalty to everyone which is not as big a strain as it sounds, because few people actually pick it up".

And just as Kerry was considered an a/hole at times then so, too, am I - by some. Because when those who fail to accept (or don't recognise) my loyalty see me retract it, and then I'm the bad guy.

And I've lived Bushido with my employers too. As a sales guy you truly are a warrior. Back in the plastic bag days a customer of mine buying from Wes Kiss would tend to mean less food on my family's table. Now Wes works for my old company and we're fine, but once mortal enemies. The way of the samurai. I've always considered myself a warrior for my current employer. It's never particularly hurt me.

But sometimes one ends up a ronin, a samurai without a master. I try to avoid that when I can, but sometimes it's not my choice.

Kerry on Loyalty:

"The quality or characteristic which I think I have learned from my father and other people who have influenced me, which I think is important, is loyalty. You have to give loyalty in order to receive it. I believe you offer loyalty to everyone, which is not as big a strain as it sounds, because very few people pick it up. It's a two-way street. It's looking after one's friends when it is inconvenient or difficult for you to do so. Anyone can look after someone if it's no problem, but it's real loyalty when you have to choose between something which you wanted or wanted to do, and their need. Then you have to choose to serve their need. I believe that's above everything else. You kid yourself if you think you can buy loyalty. You can't. You earn it through consideration and through being there when other people need you, regardless of what other commitments you have. I believe that you've got to be true to your beliefs, loyal to your friends and be a winner."

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Authenticity: What if Jesus called to say he was visiting your house tomorrow?

As a kid I remember a TV segment from a Christian group asking "what if Jesus called to say he was visiting? Would you be afraid? Would you rush about tidying up superficially or would you simply say "he knows me, I'll look forward to seeing him."

I often think of that spot, when anxieties arise around having people over, or into my office, or of people finding out my deepest fears and secrets.

So the ideal, for me, is to live true on the outside as on the inside. Do I manage t get near that ideal? In some measure, I suppose.

It can be inconvenient, though, when there's no place for a visitor to sit, and I feel a twinge of embarrassment when we talk to each other over a desk that's piled a foot deep in papers. Or when visitors to my house have to battle the clutter.

But holding one self out to the world and being a totally different person inside? I try to avoid that if I can, I hope.

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Interrupt their content stream - way more effective than repeating your message

Well, Ervin has his honours grade now. It's a first class from the Uni of Adelaide. We can talk a little about his project and what he found.

Media buyers are forced with a choice of where to spend their money. The obvious one is reach vs frequency. With a campaign shall I get 80% of people to see my ad once, or 20% of people to see it four times?

In an echo of that question, what about paying to inject your ad into the viewing stream? Sort of like loud, obvious product placement. Like when Shannon in the biggest loser a few years ago said to his charges:

"right, hold the phone. The big thing about losing weight is being able to actually taken less calories while you still feel like you're eating. One of the things you can do is chew this juicy fruit gum"

Crass, maybe. But a very deliberate interruption. We got to thinking that a combination of interruption - like that - and repetition could be thought of as "obtrusiveness" so we set up a little experiment. Some of you might have helped us by responding.

I won't tell you about method too much yet, but Ervin did four treatments in a 2x2 structure of low/high repetition/interruption.

Key finding - spend your money interrupting the stream of content, as Shannon did on the Biggest Loser. One interruption is twice as effective (in terms of ad recall) as four exposures to "advertising wallpaper". And in case you're worried about viewers feeling intruded upon - when it comes to ad effectiveness it's not that big a deal.

A blog is not the place to make complex arguments and quote r-squareds and p-values. A journal article is, and we start now. But if you do wish to talk about contact me via Twitter. Ervin too.

And finally to Ervin - a pleasure. You're a tough, cool, street fighter with plenty of brains and grit but empathy, just where it's needed. I knew that when we started this trip we might "have our moments" but we never did, only good ones. A pleasure.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Recycling is not as straightforward as it sounds

Having spent 7 years selling very expensive non recyclable plastic I'm pretty close to this.

First, a story from the past. A recycling proselytist did a radio spot, back in the mid '00s. I remember this person going through Matt Abraham's rubbish and picking out the things that should have made it into recycling. She was down to post-consumer food wrapping, and suggesting that he should be recycling this.

Yeh right. I thought it was dumb at the time and KESAB is saying it's dumb now.

Flexible packaging has an incredible range of materials in it. I can think of polyethylene, polyester, polypropylene, PVC and nylon off the top of my head. Forget the idea of laminates (ie nylon/PE) or coextrusions, and curse the coextrusion.

But the fact is, as soon as one wants plastics to do fancy jobs (sealability, cling, oxygen barrier, toughness) one is using plastics that are inherently nonrecyclable.

Think about the humble newspaper wrapping. The wraps from messenger, advertiser home, advertiser (home somewhere else) are different materials. KESAB are advising NOT to put flexibles into the kerbside recycling.

I'm all for it, but we need to be clear on the limits of recycling. These days it's recommended for rigids, only, to go into the kerbside.

Time to start another fight. Back in those Cryovac days we all tended to advocate "thermal recycling" that is, instead of burning coal or natural gas to create electricity, the calorific content of a piece of plastic could be used. English: burn the plastic and use it to run turbines for power.

We're not talking about incineration. We're talking about power generation. And all technologies have their challenges. So the obvious - emissions - issue is simply an engineering question. As my buddies from the plastics industry would once say, we'll be mining landfill one day. When we do, the Fawkner tip (around the corner from a big plastics plant) will be considered a huge deposit.

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Last trip of the day

Back out to Sim Lim, buy a little bit of hardware and see if the camera guy wants to sell me a camera. Time to check out of the Novotel.

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I know it's just a small thing but I take some comfort in solving my problems reasonably quickly.

Rather than stand at the taxi rank at Lucky Plaza and complain I stepped forward to the bus stop and found that the 123 will take me to my spot.

$2.20 and 4 minutes later I'm on the bus.

Got some singlets for
Mia, Angry Birds bag for Jonah, tennis racquet for Edan and lots of Brume mist for Sylvia. I've read that honours thesis and will write the examiners report this afternoon -waddya know, driving past the Ngee Ann Adelaide Centre - so its time to go home soon.

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Perhaps one day an expat in Singapore

The future is an uncertain place and to mitigate that, you can make the most of what you've had so far. I recall in the years leading up to October 13, 2006, I had been on a plane to Singapore or Hong Kong once every three weeks. I had become so familiar with HK that I had a bicycle there, stored at the hotel and I would ride around the city. I rode out to Kowloon Tong, to Mongkok, Temple street. I once rode to the train terminal, met the taxi driver there with my bags and then checked my bike back to Adelaide. I certainly made the most of that era, and it ended abruptly. No regrets. In a final acknowledgement I just changed my remaining $80HK and used it here.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this having been to Singapore, off and on, for the last few years. I've enjoyed it so much that I might one day come and live in Singapore as an expatriate for a few years - teaching for a Uni or a poly, or working for a market research company.

I have learnt that there are two Singapores, the "Paragon Singapore":

And the "Lucky Plaza" Singapore:

And that I'm way more comfortable in the second one:

Simply can't afford to live in the other one, unless someone else is paying. And of course the extreme version of the low cost Singapore, the Hotel 81 Dickson in Little India, which almost feels like a spiritual home.

And one last reflection. They're always building. It turns out that this view of UE Square will have another hotel in front of it, if I get back.

The old blue building at the front is getting knocked down, the white building is temporary workers accom and it seems all that green will be building footprint.

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"Occupy" delivers something good aside from tilting at windmills

A good quote, a personally relevant quote:

And I've always liked its corollary: "better to die on your feet than live on your knees" which is more correctly attributed to Mexican revolutionary Zapata than to Midnight Oil.

But with respect, I can't help that the occupy movement are satisfying that urge to rage against the machine which is fine but unproductive, unhelpful and perhaps a little self indulgent? (says the guy who won't keep his thoughts to himself and feels the need to spew them out in a blog.)

But it's a chance for me to talk about the fantastic term "tilting at windmills". I have not read "Don Quixote" but my brother tells me it's a story of a self deluded man who travels on what he believes is a heroic set of adventures. One of his delusions is that forty windmills in a field are giants (hence the band name "they might be giants") that he must do battle with. As (sorry) it shows in Wikipedia:

"Tilting at windmills is an English idiom which means attacking imaginary enemies, or fighting unwinnable or futile battles. The word “tilt”, in this context, comes from jousting."

So I don't know if the Don Quixote character is harmless (perhaps brother Chad can help me here) and I suspect the occupiers are harmless too, other than a little civil disobedience. But aren't the harmless also, by definition, ineffectual? The occupiers take pride in having no structure of organisation, no plan for how things might be better. They seem to be pure of motive.

But as Whitlam had said "Only the impotent are pure".

UPDATE: I just watched Q&A from October 24 where John Waters (American director) nailed it for me: "If you're still angry at the age of 65 it's a little pathetic, but I'm all for young people being rightly outraged at how many things are wrong with the world" - amen

And some really will make a difference, but perhaps not in the way they thought.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Push and shove in buy / sell land

From Wednesday night

What a hilarious story. I went to Sim Lim Square just then, fully prepared to pay $120 for a product I can get online for $88, fully aware that the product is superseded. A retailer who had it decaying on his shelf wouldn't play. He might have been stuck on the "rich, dumb tourist" image.

Here's the story. A (good enough) little solid state video recorder called a Samsung UX-10 has been my teaching companion for 1.5 years. Today inclass, I clumsily broke it. Bugga.

My urge was to instantly replace it. It's old stock, superseded by the UX-20, which is still only about $125 on the web. It appears I can replace this thing for about $100 through Amazon. But I thought us give Sim Lim Square a chance. I didn't expect to see it there.

A little searching at Sim Lim Square, I reluctantly allowed myself into a conversation with one of the guys whose job it is to sell cameras.

I knew what I wanted. I asked for the Samsung UX-10 and was greeted by "we don't have it". No surprise, but I said I knew what I want, I broke one today and want a new one. One of the other sales guys grunted something to my guy and then all of a sudden my guy had one in his hand. My answer "yep that's it, good"

He suggested $160 (sg), I said I don't think so, I said $140 he said "no you collect the tax at the airport I give you $150 that's almost cost". My answer "it's a superseded model you'll be selling it for forty bucks next week", he grumbled, I left.

Last I heard was him shouting "one hundred dollars" behind me.

I'm not angry, just a little disappointed. I have other solutions, the iPhone will capture my lectures fine for the next two days. I just need to massage the iPhone memory a little. Then I may, or may not, buy a UX-10 or 20 online. But the Sim Lim sales guy will probably still have his sitting on the shelf, and missed his chance with me.

UPDATE: I used the iPad to take the lecture video yesterday and it was fine. Vid quality fit for purpose and sound quality great, and the files compress well. Example:

It saved me a bit of money. But it does bewilder me a little when people can't read my signs. If you force me to I will find another solution. No biggie.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Singapore whiteboard: Difference between correlation and regression

Great little tutorial question. What is the difference between correlation and regression?

Here's my go at it:

First the similarities. Correlation and regression are both measures of association, where two variables might move together for respondents. For example people who register high satisfaction with a restaurant might also measure high likelihood to recommend. The the tightness of this relationship is measured and reported by a Pearson correlation coefficient (r).

These two variables might be plotted as a data point on a pair of axes. See below:

But the correlation coefficient coefficient says nothing about the nature of the relationship between the two variables, other than how close the data points are to a line of best fit.

A bivariate linear regression offers essentially the same piece of information (expressed as an r-sq) but also tells us a little more. In the diagram above, the r for both sets of data are identical, as would the r-sq from the respective bivariate regressions.

The line of best fit, drawn by the bvariate regression also gives us the slope of the line, and the intercept. That is how the two datasets above would differ. -if I was answering an exam q I'd go on to say what the slopes and intercepts would be for each dataset.

btw, tell me if what I've written is complete garbage. I think I'm right with it, but I'm often surprised.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

This _is_ Singapore. A vacant block doesn't stay that way for long.

Every time I find a short cut or a little hideaway it seems to have some concrete laid over it and a building put on it. It happened at the Somerset station, the John Little shopping centre and now the little carpark across the road from UE square.

Not complaining, just reflecting. It certainly does move, here in Singapore.

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Beef at $250/kg in the supermarket

Further to my earlier little rant about the beef business, I was delighted to see super-premium beef in a supermarket here in Singapore, priced by the 100g.

The prices aren't showing that well but I can assure you they net out to over $200/kg.

In fact the sticker prices I see are more what I am used to paying for a kg of beef, $28, $35.

But it is super premium. Some of that $400 meat is pure white from high quality marbling.

What I'm interested in is how the make the displays work. There must be about four kilos of meat out there and the stuff only works on display for about two days, then loses colour. They're either selling heaps, throwing a lot out or doing some fancy packaging.

I'll have another look but the display is either fake, frozen or high oxygen controlled atmosphere. That last one is unlikely - it would only give about six days shelf life.


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Students doing quality market research work

A great sight, with Qualtrics, excel and SPSS platforms running on their computers and datasets _they_ collected with over 300 respondents. A joy to behold.

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Whiteboard in Singapore: Simple regression

It rarely changes. A simple tool that's really powerful. Likelihood to recommend a restaurant as a function of satisfaction. R-sq 0.63z

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Serendipity: Friends when you need them

Funny times. I'm on a contract that terminates around mid January. I very much wish to keep working where I am, but a new enterprise bargaining agreement (and just business due diligence) has me competing again with a "Melbourne Cup" field for this job I've been doing for four years. The system is doing what it should do, and there is no fear or favour.

But setting aside the feelings of (frankly) sadness at the process there are some silver linings. It's forced me to get my CV up to date, reflect on and itemise my last four years' achievements and pushed me back out into the business of applying for jobs. My experience: it's a habit that's hard to get out of and some of my great gigs (DSTO, Royal Society for the Blind, Titan Electronics and of course Cryovac) have come from having myself out there.

But by far the greatest unexpected plus has been from the support from business associates, students and colleagues. Associate professors in NSW, previous academic collaborators, PR professionals, Media and MR Entrepreneurs in Adelaide, current students and ex-students who are making it big. They've all come out of the woodwork; offered testimonials and references but most importantly, friendship.

Ten years ago I recognised that - in Adelaide - a network like this is a very important thing. Adelaide - I hope I will still be teaching your kids as they transition from high school to a world of commerce but if not, I hope I will contribute in some way.

A self reported greatest weakness

As I prep for a series of job interviews I need to think about my answer to the invariable "what do you consider to be your biggest weakness?".

I'm leaning towards "people have told me that they'd never die wondering why my opinion was"

A trusted friend advised me "we all have thoughts about people and situations, but the clever ones keep it to themselves."

Nice lesson there but I remember this trusted friend fighting his own battles twelve years ago. Perhaps we all know what is right, just the doing that's the challenge.

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