Thursday, May 31, 2012

Quietly unfriending

Oh no. Somebody I haven't minded in real life and online has just made a little posting that has given me he irrits. A little pointed, a mild criticism, but in my "friend" space.

I'd written a humourously stiff response, but it was late in the night, so just shelved the post. I then deleted the draft, horrified, a few days later.

No, quietly unfriending is a little more civil. No biggie. Perhaps we'll meet again.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

William Glasser Institute Conference in Adelaide

Good on my wife Sylvia. She's the president of the William Glasser Institute which runs the fantastic "get your stuff together" approach known as Choice Theory.

So it's another serious job that Sylv has, and she will work brilliantly with good people to make it happen.

Good on her.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Honoured to be around these guys

I hit a couple of balls on Wednesday afternoons. Fourteen holes, with guys who are 20 years older than me. We count how many holes each of us win.

This week we evened out at two holes each (three of us) while five holes were blocked with no clear winner. And those last putts were very serious.

And we're all friends but the rivalry is fierce. And unmentioned. But underlying is a bond of friendship - dare I say love?

And these guys help me know what's important in a relationship; truth, respect, forbearance, jibes made with true friendship but with no point scoring.

Every hour I get to spend with these people makes me a better person and I feel honoured in that.

And it gives me the strength to take those values to the rest of my life. As much as I can. Regardless of how uncomfortable it might make others feel.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, May 26, 2012

This engagement thing is all fine, but..

Remember where our sales come from. Light and infrequent buyers.

A nice blog post about why not to annoy your customers. I think it becomes a little self important when it says:

To accomplish this you will need to know what is really important to people and what high level needs remain unfulfilled within the context of their larger lives.

Because most categories have only a limited opportunity to engage with people at that level. I have very high (behavioural) loyalty to some particular brand of chip. Every week, after golf, with my friends in the bar. I am so lightly engaged with them that I can't even remember the brand. (Red Rock, perhaps. High quality graphics, solid single colour designs, interesting flavours).

Thanks Google for helping me find it. Yes, that's the brand.
It's not unfulfilled needs that's getting these sales from me. It's physical and mental availability. Red Rock Deli are not meeting, and never will meet, "higher level needs within the context of my life".

But marketing is important. To establish these memory traces that gives us a chance to remember the brand when a buying situation arises.
And make no mistake, this is a major challenge of marketing. Quantity of these memory links is very important. That means to maximise the number of contacts, and maximise the number of attribute takeouts. So perhaps an engaging piece of communication is the way.

Now, how to replicate that, millions of times.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, May 25, 2012

Punctuality: The Politeness of Kings

In my constant self critique, I have endeavoured to become better at being on time. This may generate howls of derision from people who have dealt with me in the past, and I simply need to live with that.

But I was recently thinking about how sometimes a person uses their lateness as a subtle means to communicate how they consider themselves more important than the person they're standing up. Or they may not even know - or care - that they're saying it.

And I got this blog on the rudeness of being late which captures it well.

My father abhorred unpunctuality. It wasted time, it denoted inefficiency, it was disrespectful and discourteous in the extreme, it was a mark of the lackadaisical and the slap-dash.

It's one of the reasons I try to do the right thing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Whiteboard: The Negative Binomial Distribution of consumer purchase rates

It's not just a good idea. It's the law. On the left is a little measurement I did with a class yesterday. How many cups of coffee did you have over the weekend? Fifteen zeros, two ones, four threes etc.

All brands are subject to it. Even brands or categories that are bought by huge numbers of people (such as toilet paper) have a similar pattern. Just a few less zeroes.

And if you wish to grow a brand from small to large it's about increasing everybody's purchase rates a little. That will move some of the zeroes into the one purchase domain, increasing penetration.

It's like a meditation riddle. But underlying most of it is the fact that pursuing loyalty or intense brand love is a little fallacious. Most customers don't mind you, but don't think of you much, either.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Ethics: When you're comfortable that even your darkest thoughts could be public

I have a buddy is running some tutorials for another course with the week's topic being marketing ethics. These can be convoluted questions, best addressed by a philosophy department. And for me, it's important to have simple rules, or codes.

A great manager from the past, a guy called Michael Chong used what I call "the newspaper test". Are you comfortable that your action - if it appeared in tomorrow's newspaper would you be ok?

And I think it can go further. A sign of a true life, an authentic life, could be that if even your darkest thoughts, made public, wouldn't damage you.

I've had my moments, happily fading further into the past. I certainly don't believe in "no regrets".

Thanks Camille, for pointing out the spelling error.

So, not everything should be public. Many things nobody cares about. But if my darkest thoughts were to get out there, I think I could live with it.

A simple test, with its flaws, but what I'm using at the moment.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, May 19, 2012

E-waste day

As Paddo said. #firstworldproblems. But hopefully the next time I lug around a glass and copper CRT tv I'll be doing it with some gladness that I have an antique.

And that will be about 40 years from now. And I hope to see the day.

Which makes me think of the whole "antiques" game. Perhaps I should just put it in the shed.

OK. I will.

Such is the mind of a hoarder.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Jonah playing my position

So he's starting on the half back line. I played a few games as a half back flanker - not rhyming slang.

My legendary ex boss once told me "that dogged, negating role suits your personality, Cullen".

Jonah may be a little too young for that, but he's having a good game. He took a defensive mark in the goal square and a weaving play that pushed them into their half forward line.

At half time he got moved to the half forward line and then to centre.

And I love the way Craig always finishes his coach talks with "right, which way are we kicking?"

Hilarious ad fail, or not?

Cock up? Or perhaps clever creative double entendre:

Nice find by "ask a French guy".

Even with my schoolboy and tourist French I got the joke quickly. "Bites" is French slang for "Willies". The French guy above has a few grammarian comments that says the headline copy, considered as all English doesn't have the joke. But as a hybrid French/English line it reads:

"Small Willies. Big Compliments."

My money is on it being clever ad copy.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Product fail? Misunderstand the total product and the service component

Okey dokey. Well this is a nice landing page for my 27 or so MBA students in Marketing Management. We talk about a lot of stuff, and that includes "what is the product?"

When I try to get people to think through a marketing lens I get them to consider:

  • What is the product?
  • Who are you selling it to?
  • What need are you satisfying  for them, when they buy it?

One of my most recent obsessions is golf. Sounds boring I know, but since the age of 30 I've done Aussie rules footy (a big stretch at 29), skydiving, netball, volleyball and two walks of the Kokoda track. And golf, done seriously, is serious.

So I joined mount Barker Golf Club about three months ago, play twice a week and have started paying for lessons again. Okay, back to the story.

About ten years ago the Kent Town Hotel changed its name to the Tap Inn. A golf hotel. Cool. I paid no attention at the time but thought that if a golf fanatic wanted to go there then they would be amongst like minded souls.

I have enjoyed their driving range. A driving range is where you hit balls and don't have to go look for them. Hit a bad ball - think about it then hit another ball. Better, hopefully.

The Tap Inn - like all indoor driving ranges - can only let you hit about 50 metres but it's something you just live with. Especially with all the other cool stuff.

For $16.70 you get a card - it automatically tees up 100 balls as quickly as you can hit them:

"Golfers can hit 100 balls in half an hour without having to touch a ball, and will experience a full 50metre hit each time."

You can hit twenty balls, pull your card out and come back the next day and hit another 20 balls. Just quietly, I had a lesson ten days ago, hit horribly on the course three days ago and wanted to hit twenty balls a day to work on the new action.

Anyhoo, the machines are broken. The guy gave me a bucket with a hundred balls for my $16.70. He couldn't understand that I felt it was a ripoff.

"what's the difference?" - he asked

when I mentioned about manually teeing up 100 balls I got:

"golf is about not being lazy" - as a good natured gibe


Surely this guy is not the one who owns the business. I play two rounds a week now. I walk 8km each time. It's not hard, but it's not lazy. And when I want to work on a swing at 16 cents a ball I don't like the product being changed on me.

A bucket 'o' balls vs a card for an automatic machine - that's dodgy. A guy behind the bar asking me to justify it to him? Well that's just not golf.

It's all small stuff. But it does remind me of a couple of things about marketing:

What is the product?
In this case the core benefit is to hit some balls and not need to go find them. But the actual product is automatic teeing, automatic tee height setting, not using all the balls in one go. The augmented product is friendly service, a clubhouse with a few beers, maybe a loyalty club. For the core benefit I can hit 30 balls at my club, or 100 at Holden Hill for a lower price. It's even a better core benefit, because their 250m range will let me see what my slice or hook is doing.

Who are you selling the product to?
Perhaps the Tap Inn has a clear head on this. Perhaps they don't really want the serious golfer. Perhaps being able to hit at an indoor range between beers - that may be enough for the customers they want. I think the Patawolonga driving range with - adequately - automatic teeing and a full 250m range might suit this customer better.

What need are you satisfying  for them, when they buy it?
I think I answered that one above. If I go to the Pat, I'll get a pro shop with a guy who at least pretends he cares about golf. And I can even find a pro to give me a lesson if I want it.

An importantly - all products are a combination of a tangible good and a service. The tangible in this case is about hitting a ball and not having to go pick it up. The service is having a person serve you who gives a crap about your experience.

But I'm having my 45th birthday in August and a "driving range party" at the Tap Inn could be a great idea. Because in that context I am just the right golfing customer for the Tap Inn. If they're still playing in that space at that time.

And just quietly, Tap Inn guys, I'd love to.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Hungry Thirsty" perhaps a stupid ad but clever marketing

Ok then. I don't get the ad.

I quite like the 50+ rough guy walking through the sideshow doing a piece to camera about "kills hungry thirsty dead". But the sideshow, the growling, the drag queens and the animal suits - what the?

So perhaps a bad execution.

But "hungry thirsty"? Somebody is clever there.

Fourteen years ago I was doing a few sales calls with Erin, who worked in our office and was the backstop of what we did.

When I said "let's stop and get something" she said "ok, just a milk drink of some sort".

I know from much other talk that milk is a food, so I got the feeling even back in 1998 that Erin had "hungry thirsty".

So I think Dairy Farmers are onto something with this idea. A need that some people have, that they couldn't put a name to.

Shame about the execution.

UPDATE after putting this ad in front of three groups of students ands pondering the strategy, I even take back what I said about the execution. The "piece to camera" is cool, as a student said reminiscent of the "Old Spice" ad. The guy resonates with me. And the quirky style provides cut through, the holy grail of a TV as. At least for me it was "what the hell is this guy talking about" long enough for me to get the message. Good execution. Great execution. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, May 14, 2012

Ford having a go at a viral ad

Funny enough, but it's a big ask, to think the viewer will go a whole 1.31 and pass it on:

It got 110,000 views in a week. But a few paid ads on tv will give you that. So, I wonder about viral.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I must be old if photos of my kids date me

They look so young, so I must be old:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

It's easier to ask a hard question than to answer it

That was just driven home to me. And it reminds me why I spend so much energy on designing assessment questions when I teach. Answers are important, but clever questions are way more important.

A good question looks difficult to people who don't know what they're doing, and looks easy to people who know what they're doing. It's a goal of mine that any student who has put a serious, honest effort (and paid attention to my suggestions) will see my exam sheet and squeal with delight. And those who are unprepared will groan.

So when you come up with a badly conceived question, it can look hard to everybody, the knowledgable and the ignorant alike.

I was given a brain teaser by a student that my wife teaches. Sylvia says he's a prodigy with maths, but not much of a verbal communicator. I sort of got that by the question. It looks good on the surface but after quite some effort on my part I think the young lad might have made an error in his arithmetic.

So it takes a lot of energy for the answerer to arrive at a conclusion that the asker has it wrong. Sure, that's where the real genius students shine, but not through good management on the part of the examiner.

No genius here. Just perspiration.

As I go into exam writing time, I make the commitment that my students in Brand Management will have no such horrible surprises. So help me.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Right of reply: On Brand SA

I spoke to Callie Watson last Thursday and appeared in the Advertiser and Herald Sun

These things are all a bit of a roll of the dice. After a fifteen minute conversation, one wonders which sentences will get into the paper. They didn't do too badly:

University of Adelaide marketing lecturer Dr Cullen Habel agreed Adelaide as a brand, rather than South Australia, had potential, but said ignoring one or the other was foolhardy.

"I remember the Sensational Adelaide that used to be around with the Grand Prix tag line, that painted a great picture in people's mind," he said.

"But people are concerned that there's this view that SA stops at Gepps Cross ... and these concerns are valid."

Dr Habel suggested slogans such as "Adelaide and beyond", "Adelaide and more" or "Adelaide is just the beginning" because they "hint at more".

And I had a few other things that didn't make it to the paper.

"South Australia" is handy if people aren't already thinking "Australia". When overseas I introduce myself as from "Adelaide, South Australia" and it's never a problem. Apparently it was at the g'day USA where the confusion arose. So the Premier was hoping for a little higher level knowledge.

Dr Romaniuk from UniSA was exactly right in saying a strong tourism campaign is the key. I'd said to Callie that we already have high salience events here and that we can possibly trade on that - create a link to things they might already know about Australia. Whilst the "Adelaide and beyond" idea is what got to press, it was cut down from more. It was a little more like:

"You know the fabulous Tour Down Under, The Adelaide Festival and Fringe - well they all happen in and around a place called Adelaide, in the State of South Australia. Along with
X% of the great Australian wineries in our state, with Penfolds Grange made just on a hill overlooking the city."

On reflection, Callie did a neat job drawing my nebulous thoughts into something useful.

It's such a broad brief, with so many stakeholders and possible audiences. And with a home audience that's very demanding.

As with the beer that's pouring heady at a keg party, everybody has an opinion on what's wrong. But one person has to solve the problem. So I don't think I'll be second guessing the consultant who accepts that particular job.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Blogging: Sometimes I think I have the silliest hobby

I echo the words of Greg Jericho as I say that with blogging, sometimes I think I have the silliest hobby.

A guy from law told me, last week, that this and most of my other engagement activities (with students and beyond) goes against everything he's ever learnt. Better a vacuum than giving ammunition to your detractors.

A young guy I respect gave me a "you are hopeless" look when I told him I was incorporating blogging into some of the teaching I'm doing. Given, he watched me seriously damage myself as I was learning the etiquette of the medium.

A senior guy says "I simply wouldn't have the time" but probably doesn't spend hours at kids sports, waiting for appointments or in front of the TV. It's certainly not work time that gets my blogs written. But then as an independent contractor it's all work time and it's all play time.

But, then I heard Harry Vanda still writes and plays music every day. The Easybeats legend says that "it's like something else, it's gotta come out". With my blogging, an uncharitable soul might say that the metaphor doesn't end there.

But another way to think about it is whether you choose to write your life in pencil, pen, indelible marker or not at all. I've often thought that people who write important letters in pencil are playing the angles with a 1984 style "rewrite the past, change the future". Pen can be overprinted thanks to correction fluid, but indelible marker stays there. And once something is in a blog, it's indelible. If one has done something stupid in the past, the only way to deal with it is to say "that was then, I think I was wrong, and this is how I feel now", and "sorry" if one truly feels that way. And for me, knowing that I'm accountable to my future self - that helps me make decisions about the present.

Or you can just choose to not write the letter at all.

But, to many a reasonable person I do have the silliest hobby ever.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Back to being inspired at kids' footy

A coach / leader who personally engages with all twenty kids on the team.

It does exist. It needs to happen more. Note to self.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

THIS one beat the spam filter

The university has a brilliant spam filter. But this one got through. I thought the spaces in the sentence were an accident, but of course it was just filter evasion:

Find ho t local girls in search of disc reet sex!

ahem, no. Thanks for the offer, though.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Your product choice decision depends on how it's presented

The impact of choice context on consumers’ choice heuristics - Armando Corsi & Larry Lockshin

My friend, Armando, and prof Larry Lockshin are presenting this material at the European Marketing Academy Conference next week. They did this quite a while back, but set up a choice experiment that presented two different wine list styles, each with the same choice sets with the alternatives ordered in two different ways:

In price order
In order of sensory profile

Using a full profile discrete choice experiment (logit model) they made some sense of putting the consumer into an uncomfortable choice environment.
They found that when the task was set up in a less familiar structure (ie wines not listed in price order) the consumers used fewer attributes in their choice decision.

That seems to square with the idea of cognitive load. If the consumers are using more of their brainpower simply embarking on the choice task, they'll use less of it on the choice itself. Perhaps that's useful of you're listing wines with simple, clean messages of high salience. Therefore if the region, variety, style combinations on your wine list are particularly strong, you might reduce the price elasticity and increase the profitability in your wine line.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Who's the boss?

Wasn't that some c-grade sitcom from the 1980s?

As I was trawling through a few old posts, I found the one I made that misrepresented my father in law's sage comment.

In his world, the force of right could make you the boss. Luigi would design bathrooms and build them. sometimes a strongminded individual would force Luigi to do what he says.

For instance Luigi might say "yes I can use that leftover "no more gaps" rather than bathroom silicon to seal your shower alcove" - he never did, but humour me.

And a year later when the leaks had made their way through the floor, down the walk-in robe and destroyed all the gyprock and maybe some clothes, he would come back and solve the problem.

So Luigi's real point was "You be the boss today, and I'll be the boss tomorrow", when it came time to fix up the mess.

So sometimes in life, the boss is the person who has right on their side. Perhaps not as often as we'd like, though.

Dolan at Deadline

I have a buddy who has a business. Bespoke software and database solutions, plus many other things. He now employs one of our graduates, the wonderful Emily Clark, had Will Lake and Minh Khang Tran as interns and earlier, five groups of students ran a market research project for feasibility study on one of his projects.

Sean recently beat me at golf. And I owe him. Both for the bets and for the invitation to beautiful Kooyonga.

I have another buddy. Works as marketing and communications manager for her family owned winery. Brother Tim and Father Nigel as winemakers.

So it's my pleasure to put Sean Heylen and Rebecca Dolan (Deadline and Dolan Family Wines) together. Even if - for now - it's just about taking Sean out a bottle.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Some things are goodwill

Over the last five years I have come across a few thousand students. As I'm their lecturer one may often ask me to write a reference letter, recently especially for entry to other courses, often overseas.

I'm happy to do it. It's goodwill. It's about "the lion and the mouse".

Even more so, now that I'm not on anybody's payroll. But some things are about being true to what matters to you and they are tested when it starts to cost, cutting into billable hours.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Parent teacher interviews tonight

And I fortuitously came across a tweet buddy's list of least favourite things:

2. Parent / Teacher Interviews

These things scared the hell out of me at school, which is surprising considering I was never in trouble, always did my homework and was by no means the biggest smart-arse in any of my classes.

Now, as an adult with friends who are parents and teachers, I realise that nobody enjoys them. Everybody feels stressed and everybody feels judged. The kids worry the teachers will dob on them to their parents, the teachers worry that the parents will be just as big a shits as their loathsome offspring and blame them for all their inadequacies, and the parents are terrified that they'll be told they're incompetent.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

This looks like an employer of choice

If they're not a good employer, then Gail Kelly is certainly doing a fantastic job of looking like one. The issue at the heart of the discussion (gender pay gap) is a little too hot for me to want to touch, but this manager looks like a person who would attract good employees.

My natural skepticism is aroused, though, because a few of the YouTube comments are scathing of her and Westpac, but it's always hard to know what to believe. But I liked what I saw on QandA.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The importance of defining the question

"What came first, the chicken or the egg?"

has a very simple answer. No brainer.

The egg came first. Dinosaurs laid eggs. 70 million years ago.

Oh, so that's not what you meant? I'm sorry. You still lose.

So you meant:
What came first, the chicken or the chicken egg?


So now it often becomes about name calling. You call me picky, I call you sloppy.

Truly it's probably about how you're trying to communicate. In a bar, or in a thesis.

But I tend to fall on the side of "say the words that clearly indicate what you mean, even when trying to do that there's still plenty of room for confusion"

Just a musing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

A great man speaking on happiness

The father of behavioral economics, Nobel laureate 2002, and creator of prospect theory speaks about how being happy in the moment is different to being happy with one's situation in life. In fact, the "experiencing self" has a memory of about three seconds. Note to self.

Two reflections.
This squares with what I've believed since I was 20. That "one needs to balance the possibility that one may die tomorrow, with the probability of living to 80." There is a need to smell the flowers and get an education.

Somebody wrote this comment on YouTube:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, May 4, 2012

Leatherbound 33: Remembering a "walk on part in the war"

I wrote this in an airport. In 2005.

I had a day in Melbourne as a layover from some presentations I had done in NZ. I had allocated the day to go to the Fawkner manufacturing plant of my ex employer. It's where the marketing managers of my company worked, on 20 acres of extruders, printing presses and sealing machines. Where on week long training courses after learning, drinking and telling war stories we might go into the Victoria Sales (VicSales) office and the plant.

Four years before, I had walked in and out of client offices, and theirs, with these guys and survived all sorts of screaming matches - with them and the clients. And I loved them all like brothers. That day, I had arranged a few days before to meet one of the best guys on site, from marketing. I'd caught a taxi out to the manufacturing plant, but had found that he'd had to race out to a customer plant for an emergency, and presumably to get yelled at or threatened.

So I got one of the production planners, Joe Navaratnam, who came out and chatted to me for an hour in the front office reception area. No walking into the bag plant or the production planning area. Even the guys in Vic Sales were out on the job.

So with clarity, a little sadness, and no desire to go back, I invoked a line from Pink Floyd's "wish you were here". At that time I wasn't working where I do a lot of my work now. And when I talk about "kids" I don't mean students.

"I don't listen to Twitter"

I was talking to a businessperson today and said "I don't think your customers are happy, you should see what they're saying on Twitter" to which I got:

"I don't listen to their twitter, they don't know what they want"

I reluctantly agreed that sometimes staying true to a company vision is the way to go, that market research would never have demanded that Apple produce an iPad.

But I don't think this guy is hatching a vision for his version of the iPad.

And "the customer is always wrong" (a line I've once or twice gained solace from) is very dangerous unless you have some alternative blinding insight (such as with Apple from the whole staff being super power users).

So I changed the topic of conversation and let this guy hold a view that would put his consumer demand in the toilet.

Not out of spite, but exhaustion

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Worth of Mouth: Drivers of Effectiveness

Just sitting in a research seminar where somebody is talking about what makes a piece of WOM effective in changing a hearer's probability:

Personally directed
Close ties
Non users of the product

It makes sense.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:North Terrace,Adelaide,Australia

Unfortunately the 3aw interview didn't get to podcast

I was called by 3aw and spoke on Wed afternoon with Derryn Hinch. He wanted to talk about how Facebook has a new organ donor app.

The interview went well, but in Derryn's (and my) way the conversation drifted to the idea of paid tweets and dodgy endorsements. I'm sure 3aw's legal department went "whew, we're not in court yet, let's not poke that bear any more".

So the story of my radio career. Still nothing to speak of, the first of a half dozen interviews that aren't stuttering and anxiety ridden ended up being too hot to handle.

Still, I like doing radio.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

"A" journal. Tick.

I'm not expecting the people who make the decisions about my academic future to congratulate me, but I can take a quiet personal satisfaction that I have an article in press from an "A" Journal.

Given that currently, "A" publications are the only thing that universities value, I should be very happy about this. And I'm happy enough.

And it's unlike another ones I might be getting soon - where I'm a part of a large team by virtue of contributing to the process quite some time back. Something i need to thank that particular authoring team for.

This paper is something from my PhD, with me as the lead author and one of my PhD supervisors as co-author. So it's another box ticked. Wherever I end up in the next few years, it's just a fact that can stand here behind me.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My buddy Andre: Good hearts attract good wishes, and give them

I was a "side-by-side" PhD student with a guy who'd come over from Chile. What a time. He liked meat. Me too. I must dig out a photo of that time. He was godfather to my boy Jonah, who is now eight years old.

A Skype message pinged up from Andre complimenting me on my recent change of Facebook profile photo:

[10:24:56 AM] Andre Beaujanot: Nice new photo mate!!! You look very smart professor Habel!!
[10:27:45 AM] Cullen Habel: Ha. Professor. Nothing is possibly further from my future. I'm one step away from emptying rubbish bins for a living. But family is good and my marriage is stil together. Every day, I miss the time that we were all together doing that stuff.
[10:31:03 AM] Andre Beaujanot: Hey buddy!!!! You are a fighter mate!!! All good times are old times.... We survive because our past...
[10:32:08 AM] Andre Beaujanot: I am happy mate because [snip] !!!!
[10:33:21 AM] Andre Beaujanot: I am now working for a private university... Not research oriented, but BIG!!! 110.000 students!!!

So we connected and chatted. And after a few crazy jokes and memories I quizzed him "so you're not teaching, but you're in a non-research university. Are you doing admin for a living?".

And with no ego: "well yes, Cullen, actually I'm vice chancellor of this university"

And I laughed, very hard, at the best news I've had all year, and possibly for the last four.

And it made me think of what it's to have a good heart. Andre is a hard man, in some ways. But he never seethed with resentment at another's success, he never had a hint of a dark spirit. And he was always prepared to look at me and say "that's silly, you don't want to do that". A real friend who would talk straight to me, no matter how hard that might be.

And just as the Vinomofo guys make you love their success, Andre attracts goodwill over his success. How can it be otherwise?