Saturday, December 31, 2016

Bottled water: We will cringe over this

I'm not that big on environmental stuff but I do like a bit of common sense. If we are talking about saving the world and using less oil then perhaps we should not be packing our water up in 2 slabs and selling it in bottles.

I am seeing many people at the moment decide they will drink the water in 500 ml units. That water needs to be bottled shipped and the bottles recycled ( if we are lucky) rather than opening a tap of some sort.

It saddens me when I see people who consider themselves to be environmentally aware just chugging out of a cheap hdpe bottle. And telling me what I should do about my own environmental footprint.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Will i have the awkwardness?

My kids have nicknamed me the scriptwriter. Quite often they say that I had written the script for the situation that we are now in. Perhaps I overthink things.

My friend Bria got the chance to park a caravan very close to mine the other week. She is a nice neighbour to have. I didn't want to be instantly signalling negative vibes but there's a 50% chance that where Bria parks is going to close me out from my preferred parking spot.

As I drive to the drop zone now, it will be interesting to know which way the coin toss went. Either way I'll show Bria this note and we can have a laugh about it.

Verdict: No awkwardness. Lesson to self. I use a lot of emotional energy playing Scriptwriter

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The only person you can really count on is yourself

I get nervous when a person says "stick with me I'll take care of you".
  • In 40% of cases they decide it's not worth the effort
  • In 50% of cases it is simply beyond their power to take care of me
  • In 10% of cases I make it impossible for them to take care of me

But the end result is always the same. The only person I can ever rely on is myself. As it always was, for me and everyone else.

Monday, December 12, 2016

In management too: Nature abhors a vacuum

I enjoy gardening. If I prepare a plot of garden bed and then just leave it I can be sure that 6 months later it will be overgrown with something. Some opportunistically parasitic weed will colonise the bare soil.

So it seems to be in soft systems such as management. In a business where there is no designated manager or if the manager is a weak leader we seem to get results that nobody predicted.

If you are a person that is forced to deal with such a business then your safest bet is to pretend you don't see anything. And pretend that whoever you are dealing with really is as good and as important as they act.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Not having a plan can be a plan, too.

I've worked like a pig to have all my stuff together for this ten days. I have a week of coaching with the world's best bigway coach and I'm driving to Victoria - about eight hours. The gun fired this morning and I spent until 3pm clearing stuff up about the courses I'm running.

At 3pm I went into the office and touched base with a bunch of people face to face and a bunch more in a digital manner. Cleared a few buggy domestic issues and headed towards the DZ (one hour of the eight's driving) to pick up some more gear and tidy up my van.

Oh, and there's a ground training course on! It looks like I'll stay and jump tomorrow morning with students and leave for Nagambie about lunchtime.

I love the plan of not having a plan. It takes a lot of planning to get into that space.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Stupid hurts as always

I am my own best friend and my own worst enemy. I have lost 4 kilos 5 kilos in preparation for a bigway event that I really want to do well at. We are two weeks away from the start date and I did some jumps 2 days ago. Complacency can be a killer and hopefully in this case it's just been a minor (painful) inconvenience.

I have been doing high performance canopy landings with 90 degree turns pretty well for about 100 jumps. Last Sunday I had a lot of things on my mind and neglected to concentrate on the most important thing at landing time.

Hello my old friend pain. Fast landing caught the ground too hard. I know exactly what the injuries are all up my left-hand side. I know I need at least the two weeks I have of quietness to be relatively pain free for our bigway event.

The incident report is in, and I have two weeks of self imposed exile (time in the naughty chair) to think about my actions and their consequences. Whenever you see my "stupid hurts" t-shirt you can be sure I'm talking about myself.

When this sport bites, it bites hard. And it's almost always our own fault.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Flanders poppies by the side of the road

Clearly we're just at the end of the season but if I'm not mistaken these are Flanders poppies on the Langhorne Creek Wellington Road. That's pretty nice.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Red delicious yeah right

This is the ultimate confidence trick that I've had voice catch up on me since I was a kid. I heard a little while back that red delicious is an old variety. No wonder.

Clearly the standards for lower back in the days when red delicious was not an old variety.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

An exercise in critical literacy

I got into a minor disagreement with somebody a little while ago about cooking pasta. They told me that the pot I had chosen was too large. I knew from somewhere back in my memory banks that it was important to cook pasta in a large pot but couldn't be bothered with the conversation.

This morning I had a few brain cells to spare, and Googled it. The answer came pretty quickly. It's the top on one list of common mistakes to avoid when cooking pasta.

I love the way that answers are quickly at hand. The only job now is to triangulate it. When I Googled "good to cook pasta in a small pot" I could find no articles that said it was good to cook pasta in a small pot. They all gave every reason why copious amounts of water is important.

And there is my little self education lesson of the day. The kids who are in the future and not the ones who can remember stuff but ones you can find it but not be Hoodwinked.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

How do introverts feel about customer service?

Bubbly, friendly service. Yuk. Making small talk with checkout staff - yuk. Booking my plane ticket on the web - yay! Ordering pizza online for me to go and pick up - yay!

I may be special, but the fewer interactions I have when doing mundane things such as buying groceries - the better.

What do you think? I need the opinions of everyone - whether you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert. It's anonymous.

Tell me here..

Once I have enough responses I'll report what I found.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Leadership and love

I've never been much of a horse person - never really been around them - but I like animals. And when I just hear the photographer talk about it I had to check it out.

Tommy Woodcock with Reckless - winner of the 1977? Melbourne Cup.

As a leader, if you can get [people] to walk through walls for you then that is where you are really doing your job.

The silliest thing I've ever said is that "I'd rather be feared than loved". I'd take fear any day - if it got the job done, but it doesn't. And the fringe benefit is that it feels nicer to be loved than feared.

Love outwards, love inwards, performance. That's when I see it work best.

Beware of the desperate ones

By far the majority of people problems I've had in my working life come from those who say "I am passionate about X -  I don't know what I would do if I didn't have X".

Variously, X can be skydiving/research/my family/dope/this particular job/my significant other etc.

True, people may not say the words but they live the reality.

In The Art of War Sun Tzu says that formlessness is strength. In "IF" Rudyard Kipling says

"If you can make one heap of all your winnings and risk it on one turn of pitch and toss,
- and lose, and start at your beginnings and never breathe a word about your loss" [you'll be a success].

Beware the "passionate" ones - they're afraid. They on;y have one thing that they think they're good at and they want to eliminate anyone else who wants to play in the same space they want to eliminate their risk - which is impossible. And that makes them desperate.

Beware the passionate / desperate ones.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Subway's initiative to mitigate the "Inseparability", "Variability" and "Perishability" challenge of services

There are four problems when you sell a high service product: variability, perishability, inseparability and intangibility. Subway is fairly high along the service spectrum.

I use Subway a fair bit these days and I don't particularly like the way that I have to talk the artist through the process of making my sandwich, it's a real pain in the butt when there's more than one person wanting a sandwich, and (for them) the quiet times are a lost production opportunity. That is inseparability, variability and perishability.

Catering is a product that solves all that for Subway. It makes sense they would be developing that product.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Woolies just checking to see if their mailing list is alive

250 points (whatever that is) just for Woolies to see if I'm still getting their emails. Sounds fine to me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Yes, life really is a game

I love the way that skydiving reminds me of the way that life is a game. Over 13 years ago when I was learning to fly camera on Tandems, on of my mentors told me that it's dangerous to get to close to a tandem around the time they deploy. But it is the way you get the best shot. "And it's all a game anyway".

And then, with the same guy ten years later we were joking about how sometimes a student will punch you in the face when they deploy their own parachute. A week later I watched exactly that happen to him.


It's all just a game. And it makes the game I play in my non skydiving life seem so darn boring that it's hard to imagine why some people take it so seriously.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Does my preference for low noise shopping make me racist?

I have come to think that it may be a sign of my life that I like low nose environments. I make a buck by interacting and communicating ( essentially matching wits) with some very intelligent highly educated people. It's a great way to earn a buck.

But in my down time I really prefer low noise environments. Some clever retailers are coming to think of that.

Skip to yesterday afternoon in my local supermarket. It was reasonably busy but what made it worse was a gentleman who had his phone in his hand on hands-free having a particularily loud conversation. I could hear both sides of the conversation very clearly and no matter where I was in the supermarket the guy seemed to follow me. It was driving me crazy.

I kept my thoughts to myself and continue to try to avoid him.

The man also happened to be East Indian.

And there is one of my other problems. At times I will be irritated by certain behaviours. Sometimes those behaviours come from people who are ethically different to me. But I dare not make mention of my irritation because many people rush to the lowest common denominator and shout:

"You're a racist!"

The poor simple fools.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Low noise shopping: Like the slow food movement

I'm pretty unsociable in a morning, especially when I have six hours ahead of me with MBA students in a classroom. Coles have a set of self serve aisles but they shut them in the morning. I don't think they realise that the servicescape is more than simply efficiency.

Servicescape as is made up of design factors Ambien factors and social factors. There is a nascent movement to low noise shopping experiences which I fully appreciate. Originally designed for people with special needs such as autistic people I am quite warm to the idea as well.

When I'm thinking about how to match wits with 23 highly intelligent well educated people I don't wish to be making small talk about my V8 vegetable juice.

Like the slow food movement bring on the low noise shopping movement!

Friday, October 14, 2016

I am reminded: How life is a game

I am reminded that life is a game and that the only way to lose is to give up. So as the pieces move around a chessboard one will have their wins and their losses. If one throws the board over shedding the pieces asunder then the game is lost.

I suppose that's what annoys my adversaries so much. I just keep hanging on. They don't know how I survive but I do.

There are a few tricks left in the old guy still.

I am reminded: About the constraints of honour

I am reminded that good people can only be as honourable as the system they work within allows them to be.

I am no different but these days I feel as if I can be truer to myself.

But it costs me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

AFL coaches remind us to love the ones you lead

Love the ones you lead.

I first wrote this about six years ago while I was watching managers who certainly didn't feel this way about their underlings. And this just moment after the Grand Final reminds me how important it is.

I have managers that I would run into flames for. In AFL I see it too. This coach has over 40 one-on-one relationships in this team. The intellectual and emotional energy this takes is breathtaking. But it's what one must have to run a successful team. I've been a part of a 119 person team that worked the same way.

And a note about certain types of people. Some of us - often men - aren't comfortable to expose this "feeling side", this love, without some extra help. That help often comes as physical exhaustion, bloody minded goal directedness, andrelanine, unconditional trust, getting drunk together.

Please don't judge us too harshly.

The AMSRS regulatory update

A great list of ethical guidelines. I had to watch this as a review for my QPMR (Qualified Practising Market Researcher) revalidation and it was worth the time.

Treachery disappoints me

I woke up with a stinking headache this morning. Sure it is day 8 of a sobriety drive but I think there's something more.

For about 3 years now I have been the sole supplier of MBA marketing management courses to my current major torrent. I have also begun to do other things for them but this is a great little gig that worked. They are happy with me and so other students.

My line manager refers to my courses as a black hole; student go in and he never hears any complaints after that. Only compliments.

Trying to organise next year (it is October of course) I contacted them confirming my availabilities for next year. Basically I received no reply.

But an insider friend told me that the very next day they were sending around internal emails making those courses of mine available to staff in the school.

So that's what loyalty and forthrightness brings you when you're dealing with some people. Sure things will work out fine for me because they always do, but dealing with people like this just saps my energy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Nerd dad conversations

Perhaps Jonah might remember these conversations we have. I hope so, I hate to think I spent all my life learning this stuff for nobody to give a shit about it.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Cullen's law of threes

  • If you plan to disrupt a persons day contact them at least 3 hours ahead.
  • To disrupt their week contact them at least 3 days ahead
  • If you will be disrupting somebody's months then contact them at least 3 months ahead

It just sounds like good manners

I don't always succeed at following my own rules but at least I know they exist.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The wishbone answered

On a whim I snapped a wishbone just then. One has to have some decision come out of a wishbone snapping incident.

I joked with myself that if the large part of the wishbone came out in my right hand then that would be a sign that I should continue skydiving for the next 10 years.

The wishbone answered.

And perhaps that's a sign of confirmation bias. Because it's a large part was in my other hand you probably would not see a post.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Blackout SA: Post hoc ergo propter hoc

I had a research methods class today and was speaking about logical fallacies. Exciting I know.

The "post hoc ergo propter hoc" fallacy translates to "it follows therefore it was caused by".

Kate came up with a delicious example.

"So the state wide blackout came after the state increased it's reliance upon renewable power. And the fallacy of 'it came after therefore it was caused by' applies here?"

To my logic yes that fallacy is exactly what applies here. There are plenty of arguments to be had around renewables in South Australia but this is a false one.

Lecturer whiteboard: my musing about personality and Internet abuse

This was just a musing I had in class off of a paper that I was looking at. Addictive personality might be positively related to Internet abuse with a negative moderator being other people in the house.

Lecturer whiteboard: rifle shots what is this a picture of

What are the r and v that I talk about?

Reliability. Validity.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Coles Self Service: Why do you do this to me?

Coles you gave it to me and why would you take it away? In the mornings I don't talk to anybody. You gave me the perfect system and now you are taking it away from me.

A Service Enhancement
Self service checkouts were a boon to those of us who just don't like to make small talk. I can press buttons on a machine, I can scan and if I need to talk to somebody then I can. I know the most obvious thing about shared services is service efficiency, but it is far from the only thing.

What - you've shut the lanes?
In the morning where I am slow to start that would seem all the more important. My kids call me the cringemaster because sometimes when I am with them they cringe at how I express myself.
So when the supermarket staff asked me if I needed help when they saw me taking this photo I said "no I'm just annoyed that I can't use the lane"

An unfortunate series of interactions
"But there's a lane you can use over the other side" - she protested

"No, I just don't like people"

She reeled like she was talking to a serial killer, and the cringemaster was in da house.

I'm sorry, friendly checkout guy
The poor (lovely) guy who ended up swiping my groceries and trying to "connect":

"Let's not talk"

Consistency is a measure of quality
Coles, you could have avoided all this discomfort by simply running the service you cleverly introduced A few years ago. A measure of quality is consistency of service. If one day I have self service then the next I don't then it's a quality fail.

Last words to Coles from a grumpy old man
I actually don't dislike people. I just like to have the freedom to choose the times I wish to interact.

Coles, please don't deny me that.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Saying no - the key to perceived reliability

Not to put too fine a point on it but a two step process to being considered reliable is:

1/ Say what you're gonna do and
2/ Do what you say you're gonna do

So the old salesman's trick of "under-promise and over deliver" still holds true. I think these days it's also known as "managing expectations".

Moral of the story is to resist being coerced into making promises that will be hard to keep. You're only delaying the pain and setting the scene for a bad reputation.

I - too - should learn to say "no" more often.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Kids' resilience: The bubblewrap experiment has failed

It saddens me when people only listen to the latest new agey thing. But at least the latest new agey thing is useful this time.

Hopefully we can call bubblewrap experiment closed and the results in. It's perhaps too strong to declare a generation of dud kids as a few of my colleagues have. But for sure we have a generation that is learning the importance of resilience a lot later than they could have.

In our loving quest to protect our children from anything that might harm them I feel we have done them a great disservice. There is a place for htfu and I suppose it might as well start in the home.

The greatest gift a parent can give their child is to suspend their own anxiety and allow their child the chance to make mistakes. My mum called it benign neglect.

Some kids take to it better than others. One might just hate you more than the devil and that might just be a cross you have to bear.

So for all those parents who avidly supported the self esteem movement over the last 20 years you have a new new agey next best thing. It's called the resilience movement. And never mind, we did the best we could with the 20 year old kid.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cucumber wrap: Quietly spoken clever manager

I'm always reminded of Bob Holtzer when I see a wrapped cucumber.

In the 90 ninety's I was selling plastic and I took Bob Holzer our director Asia-Pacific out to a vegetable packing plant.

We didn't sell cucumber wrap but Bob was trying to work out whether we wanted to. It was a low end product and I was saying that this customer was buying it for very low prices.

Bob asked me "how low?" and then I think I said $4 per kilo.  Bob said "no it wouldn't be as low as $4 a kilo".

He could've said "you're crazy, the resin price is $4.50 - these guys wouldn't be buying finished rollstock at $4!"

But Bob allowed me my dignity. And as the years go on I realise he taught me something about manufacturing, and something about managing people - on that day.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Respect: Three good rules for life

If we're looking for simple rules to live I heard a simple approach that makes great sense some time ago. As you go through life you should have respect for three things:

Respect yourself
Respect others
Respect property

Sounds very sensible. I suppose it's in the actual doing where it gets hard.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Jesse Redwing: Remember that name

I heard a track on ABC local radio today and hunted this down. This guy is good, old school blues:

and and a blend of deep purple and 1970s Cold Chisel:

Early sign of a good manager: Taking a smaller office

Sure, in the case of new ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie it may be clever tokenism but nevertheless it's a good sign:

It’s been widely reported that Guthrie is moving out of her predecessor Mark Scott’s giant office on floor 14 at Sydney’s Ultimo. It is easily bigger than any space occupied by chief executives at the commercial end of the industry. That includes the giant office overlooking the Nine helipad that was once home to the Sam ChisholmDavid Leckie and office squatter David Haslingden and his right-hand pooch Tido.

The very worst manager I've ever seen saw it as the first thing on her list to get the best office in the department, with similar behaviours shown by the third and fourth worst.

What’s less well known is where Guthrie will pitch up next. Guthrie is moving to level seven to be closer to the shop floor. This floor connects the two main buildings at the ABC. This means Guthrie will be more accessible to staff as well as the marketing department. The office will also be in proximity to the canteen.

I like the sound of this ex-Google senior manager. he ABC is great, but I don't think it was very well managed by Mark Scott.

Tupperware and Ikea: Selling the dream

For years I have believed that Ikea sell the dream of an organised house. So many ads say "get organised" and promise that a $29 cabinet will turn your place from a clutter box to clean smooth lines.

The same with Tupperware. Back in the day we spent hundreds of dollars for odd shaped plastic that would provide the perfect solution for times such as we made a tray of slice and needed to store it.
It's nice that at least once in the 20 years we've had this product and it served it's purpose.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Onomatopoeic footwear

I don't like these that much as a rule. Probably too much of an influence from my father who would always say "pick up your feet" as he would hear this "Swish Swish Swish" walking through a house.

And I just thought that scuffs might be the only onomatopoeic footwear that exist.

But then there's a "jackboot" which sounds pretty much like what it is.

Friday, August 12, 2016

What do census cyber attackers and One Nation voters have in common?

Perhaps they were both sick of being shouted down and considered loonies.

In the leadup to the digital census night on Tuesday Aug9 there were concerns - valid I suppose - about the new ABS plan to hold onto identifying details for four years. I don't give a crap - my movement details, my personal details and pretty much anything about me is held by Google and Facebook - but I have a number of friends who do a great job of guarding their details.

Those with concerns over security were shouted down as "tin foil hats" by Christopher Pyne. About the same time we were getting told that the system was bulletproof.

I don't think Australians like being shouted down as loonies and there's a really good chance that some people decided "screw you, we'll crash your servers". I expect that the DDOS attack was not rocket science:

"This was not an attack. Nor was it a hack but rather, it was an attempt to frustrate the collection of Bureau of Statistics Census data," Mr McCormack said.

"ABS census security was not compromised. I repeat, not compromised, and no data was lost."

"The good news is the firewalls held up," the minister said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's cybersecurity adviser said the tussle between ABS protections and the would-be hackers ended in "a draw".

"I would say they successfully caused frustration," Alistair MacGibbon said.

So, someone was calling a huge proportion of people loonies who shouldn't even be raising their concerns. Perhaps that segment of the population said "screw you" and made their thoughts known in a way that they could.

Brexit, Trump and the revival of One Nation
So perhaps if people are ridiculed for bringing up a point of view they will make their thoughts known in any manner they can. Perhaps if we - from our latte kingdoms - instantly default to namecalling "racist, homophobe, intolerant, human rights abuser" we are forcing the people whose views aren't ours to make themselves heard.
Take a good look at this lady. I'm sure she thanks us for sending a whole bunch of your average Australians into her waiting arms.

“He said: ‘You’ve got my number, ring me up any time’. I said: ‘I will, don’t worry about that’,” Ms Hanson said. “He was the man who said I would not be welcome at Parliament House. Thank you Malcolm. You got me more votes. That’s why I am there.”

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Which of these images is the most offensive to you?

Just wondering..

And from a NT teacher who wishes to remain anonymous:

"Now about Bill Leak’s cartoon last week. He nailed it. He absolutely nailed it. I thought, “Wow, someone is actually telling it how it is!” And it did not just mention bad parents, but also those aborigines who want to make things better for kids, too. Many aborigines, often older women in my experience, have the same attitude as the policeman in Leak’s cartoon.
Is it racist? No. The Left say it is because it portrays aborigines in a bad light, and thus is more like a simple insult. But there is a difference between insulting a person, and telling that person a harsh truth. The former is saying something unkind simply in order to upset another person because you don’t like that person. For example, racist scribbles on toilet walls. The latter is a form of compassion – it’s not called tough ‘love’ for nothing. Bill Leak’s cartoon is surely the latter. Do you honestly think the cartoon demonstrates that Bill Leak hates aborigines? Really? It’s not in the same class as some toilet wall screed."

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Thw world is round - a regret of my own

There are plenty of quotes about how if one has never failed one has never tried. I also think that if one has no regrets they've either never extended themselves or they're a psychopath.

I have many regrets in the number increases every month. Generally about 5 years after whatever incident caused the harm.

While I'm not into self-flagellation I hope that a simple statement of "I regret that" is enough for me to move on and for the injured parties to say "well he is a prick but at least he knows he is".

One thing I regret - possibly my greatest regret - is the extremely hurtful letter I sent to my father back in about 1989 just before Christmas. Perhaps it takes a lifetime to recognise that we are all just dumbfucks trying to wade through life, and just because somebody's behaviour is causing you problems they are not necessarily on a mission to make your life hell. There's a very good chance that they are in a hell of their own.

Sure my core argument of "I didn't choose for my parents marriage to break up and now I'm allowed to survive it anyway I like" is something I still stand by today. But I can also accept that my dad was in a hell of his own. When a friend of his said to me at the time "he's a good man" I can see now that he was also a man under siege.

I can see all that now. The world is round; Karma is a thing.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Memories of the US

What a great trip that was. And oysters on the beach at Pismo with my best friend.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Schopenhauer: Try not to argue with a fool

This great little chapter:

Outlines 28 ways to argue from a weak position, starting with the extension of the opponent's argument beyond its natural limit, then knocking it down. Strategem number 28 is to personally abuse your opponent. (As an aside that seems to be what the current "go to" method is when people get instantly shouted down as sceptic, homophobe, islamophobe or advocating cruelty to refugees. This default to the lowest form of argument does a disservice to the valid causes of climate science, marriage equality, tolerance and human responsibility.)

But Schopenhauer's best point here is a more eloquent version of "don't argue with an idiot - they drag you down to their level and beat you with experience":

The only safe rule, therefore, is that which Aristotle mentions in the last chapter of his Topica: not to dispute with the first person you meet, but only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to cherish truth, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong, should truth lie with him. From this it follows that scarcely one man in a hundred is worth your disputing with him. You may let the remainder say what they please, for every one is at liberty to be a fool — desipere est jus gentium. Remember what Voltaire says: La paix vaut encore mieux que la vérité. Remember also an Arabian proverb which tells us that on the tree of silence there hangs its fruit, which is peace.

So if I go quiet when we're talking please don't assume you've won the argument - I probably just realised I made a mistake entering the discussion.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A sweet girl can stop big men in their tracks

I love this song and it reminds me of a bizarre thing that happened back in the mid 90s. I was in a car with three other men; rowdy, jokey and off to some training in the area of packaging for the fresh red meat industry. Good days.

All the banter stopped the second this song came on. Everyone just quietly listened and when the song finished, we just started talking normally. About other things. Nobody even mentioned the song - probably didn't even think of it.

I think about that with my daughter. Something about a sweet girl that can just shut up some of the loudest blokes. This is not political and I'm not telling anyone how to be. It's just something I notice about myself.

And Jewel Kilcher. What an amazing story.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

They took our jerb - we're all only as good as our last day

I don't like most of Southpark. But years ago I saw this and found it amusing:

and this oversimplification is offensive to many people doing it tough - but from a restricted personal point of view (thinking of myself only) I have to pay attention to this:

I've been put out of certain jobs by:

  • mechanisation - wave soldering
  • technology - e-commerce negating a sales rep role
  • my values - I would not sack an employee simply because a boss didn't like her
  • work processes - tandem handcam reducing the need for freefall photographers
  • employee competition - coworkers willing to do the same work as me at a lower rate
  • my personality - small business employers quite rightly choosing to employ people they like
  • my age - people who want "strapping young lads" in certain roles

And in every case I've found a way to survive.

For sure, any time now I might be competing with people for taxi driver jobs, or working in a bar or collecting shopping trolleys and will rebuild from there. Or I might cling to the jobs I have, because I provide value for my stakeholders at a price that makes better economic sense than the alternatives.

All these assets:

  • My education
  • My 20 years of experience in this role
  • My ability to get stuff done
  • A nice set of industry contacts and (generally) good reputation
  • The glowing feedback I (generally) get sent to my employers by students
  • My ability to take a student into freefall and get them to the ground safely

They're all just tools that help me compete for work. Tools I spent money and energy accumulating. They're not a guarantee that someone will keep paying me.

Because we're all only as good as our last day.


And as I read the article that gave me the links above - I take on board the criticism of "what the hell would you know?". Referring (more or less) to me, the author states:

"They are in a specialised field. Both are in advertising. Nobody can just waltz in from Syria and offer their unskilled, non-English speaking illiterate expertise in our couple’s chosen field. Nor can it be done in a call centre abroad.
Nobody they know feels threatened by migrants or outsourcing in the job market either, just like they always remark with a degree of childlike wonder that nobody they know voted for Tony Abbott, so they have absolutely no idea how he ever got in."

Point taken.

They have about as much comprehension of the life experience, fears, and hardships of the average One Nation voter in the Western Suburbs as they do about an African American, or a Syrian refugee for that matter, so dictating what these people should and shouldn’t be concerned about employment-wise from the comfort of a gentrified Inner West suburb is nothing less than textbook white privilege.

Point taken.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Rich beyond measure and in the blink of an eye..

In the blink of an eye I could be as poor as trash tomorrow.

For four years now I have not had a regular job. The people I used to work for decided to hire somebody else when my contract ended but they still wanted me to keep doing the work on a short-term basis.

For four years that has worked really well. But I get nervous in the middle of each year because next year holds no promises and this year is coming to an end. If you don't smile, you die. Sometimes you just die smiling.

But if it was all to end tomorrow I must say I feel rich beyond measure. I have just spent a week with 80% of my family here in Singapore and we have had fun.

Working on this basis has allowed me to stay close to all types of students. MBA students in the city of Adelaide and Singapore. Masters students in Adelaide and other students who have just begun to feel the burn for academic research. Last year I got to work with some stunning undergraduate students; true salt of the earth who really want to get along in life. That makes me feel rich.

I am rich because I get to work with a few academic (and management) staff who think clearly, know how to work with other people, and care.

And because I haven't had to punch a timecard for the last four years I have been able to pursue my great passion of skydiving and associate with people whose qualities dwarf most others. That makes me feel rich.

Two years ago my mum died and left me some "screw you" money. God bless her.

I may have been saying "screw you" a little too much. And I might have also been saying "yessireee" too much as well. In both cases I might have frayed a few business friendships.

But as my lovely wife says:

"It's all doom and gloom about now and it never goes as bad as you imagine"

Clever, my wife.

So, if I'm reaching out later on this year, and asking you for a job then please give me a hand. It will be one of the few times in over 26 years that my wife's confidence in me was a little unfounded.

And the adventure continues....

Monday, July 18, 2016

Back in Singapore and in the moment

It's 2016 and I am spooking UE Square at 7:30 a.m. I have many memories of this place - the starkest being the number of weeks I spent in tropical heat working on a research project in wine choice. I rate 2010 as one of the most unpleasant years of my life, being surrounded by some of the most unpleasant people I've ever known. There were patches of sunlight, but in general the year was bleak and I lost my faith in humanity.

But the wheels turn  - nothing lasts forever. I lost a job, found another way through (so far) and managed to reconnect with the great passion of my life - skydiving.

I've just been teaching here for two weeks and have two weeks more of it - punctuated by flights between Adelaide and Singapore. This week, though, I have the pleasure of sharing Singapore with my wife, daughter and youngest son.

While I still have a great many obligations - web meetings and marking etc - I have the chance to live in the moment. I like Singapore I love my family and I look forward to this week.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Good evening please rate our toilet

Dated July 10

I was discussing the Holy Trinity of understanding customers with MBA students today. The holy.trinity is internal records, market intelligence and market research. Which one do you think this might be?

Whatever it is, Singapore Airport does a great job of understanding the customer experience.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Those empty benches in a lobby

It's funny how architecture tends to lag practicality. There was a time where this bench in a lobby would've been filled with landline telephones.

Now the bench is simply a place to put your Singapore orchids.

Tom's Carwash: Loyalty, habit and a challenging pricing model.

Here's what happened when I used a "Fly 'n Detail" service in late June.

Sounds like a good deal!
I have been using Tom's Carwash for about 3 years. I was lured by a price deal that made a lot of sense. At the time had been parking my car in the long term carpark at Adelaide Airport and it would cost me up to $80 for a 6 day trip.

The Tom's Carwash deal looked excellent at $89 including a full car wash and detail. Sure when I had a longer trip it cost a little more. This worked well for quite a while. Bevan the owner was a nice guy - a fast talker but we got the job done. In and out pick, up and delivery to the airport with no problems.

Inertia is loyalty
I had simply fallen into a default situation where I had decided I would be using the fly and detail product instead of the Airport long term parking. In marketing circles that habit is often considered to be a form of loyalty.

An unpleasant surprise
The last few times I have used the Carwash it has surprised me with the $250 charge that I would end up paying when I picked my car up. Six days ago I was very specific that I just wanted the basic no extras basic "fly and detail". My surprise was that the bill was $240.

Where's your feedback mechanism?
Now I prefer just to send an email or it asynchronous message but nothing allowed me to do that with Tom's Carwash. The website defaulted to a Facebook page and for some reason I couldn't send a message through Facebook so I had the unfortunate task of having to make the call personally. I told Bevan that it's not my way to make personal complaints on the phone but I'd rather to send a message. \

My recognition of our previous positive relationship means that I didn't do what I default to - which is write a Facebook post on his wall and plaster my complaint over social media. But now I've spent the time on the phone I need to get some secondary benefit from this - and this blog is a Hungry Beast that needs to be fed.

"But that's what we charge"
Bevan's surprise at me telling him I would not be using is service again turned to a process of justifying why $240 really quiet reasonable for a basic detail and 6 days of parking. It was there that I became a little disappointed; perhaps Bevan was not the great businessman or marketer that I had imagined.

So that's your pricing model
So it appears that Bevans pricing model is $99 for a detail and one day of parking, and that for a number of days after that I was incurring extra parking fees. So it seems I paid $140 days of parking on top of the $99 detail.

Bevans' justifications just seem to go around in circles and it got to the point of him saying "I don't make money from parking cars for $30 a day". Wow! I could. Apparently, normally if they keep the car for more than 6 days they do a complimentary shampoo and polish as well which only made me feel even more ripped off.

A few lessons for me
So there are a number of lessons from this:
  • Caveat emptor.
  • Customer loyalty often precedes increased margins for the seller
  • As a marketer you probably need to have your pricing structures clearly defined

Perhaps it was a relationship that just ran its course
So Tom's Carwash has received probably a customer lifetime value of $1,200 from me, perhaps less, and maybe that's good enough for Bevan. I'm sure it's a hard business to run with rent, staffing, costs and of course customers like me. Perhaps the "fly 'n detail" that started them up when they lost the Qantas valet contract is simply not the type of business that suits them, That's fine. If that's the case, my faith in Bevan is renewed, because it's important to be in the business you that suits you. It may just be a relationship that's run its course. I've said goodbye to business that way, quite often.

It's the customer's point of view that matters
I'm not particularly cranky about this but it's just been something that started quite well enough and drifted into something that did not make sense for me. My biggest disappointment was how the proprietor was saying "but you have to see it from my point of view".

I currently have no interest in running a business that deals with the public but if I was to own one then my key salesline would not be "look at it from my point of view".

Finishing with a missed opportunity
We left it with Bevan saying "when you have a two day trip then give me a call" which is unfortunate for him. I have four 5 day trips to Singapore this month and two other cars I could be putting with him but we just can't agree on a price and now need to find an alternative solution. I write this from a Singapore hotel room while my car sits in long term parking at the airport. It's the customer who makes the choice about how they spend their money.

I give everyone something, even if it's just someone to hate

I know a certain type of person whose only means of motivating themself is to identify an adversary and then make it their mission to stick it to that adversary. I have been that person myself before but I'm tired. So tired.

My entire private energy seems to be spent building a quiet place inside and around myself where I don't have to negotiate the clamouring demands of dozens of other people. That's what I do to put food on my family's table, so I don't need to spend my private time being concerned with other people.

But for some people, resentment is the fuel in their tank. For a very few, I am the focus of that resentment. I wish it were different, but I'll be of service in any way I can.

The brilliant 1962 novel by James Clavell spoke about Corporal King - or "King Rat" in a WW2 prison camp in Singapore. Because he was a wheeler and dealer, cpl King had good food, good clothes and all sorts of comforts while the others went hungry. Pursued by Lt Grey, the provost marshal, the last lines of the book described the mindset of a person driven by resentment:
[last lines]
Peter Marlowe: [speaking about King] It wouldn't have occurred to you would it, Grey, that you're only alive because of what he gave you? 
Lt. Robin Grey: What are you talking about? I never took anything from him. He never gave me anything. 
Peter Marlowe: Only hate, Grey. Only hate. 

Often we grow out of this. I did. Then again I've been around a few older people who continue to live in that world of jealousy and resentment.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Sneering simply drives your opponent towards Donald Trump

I was disappointed to hear a story of someone I considered to be reasonably intelligent the other day.

This person got into a social media slanging match over politics - nothing particularly surprising about that however this friend of mine reverted to the line of "the 1800s have called and they want their argument back".

In the first instance I'm disappointed because of its lack of creativity but more importantly it was a barefaced  attempt to simply shut down discussion. Clearly my friend's opponent was espousing conservative views - which was apparent heresy to my friend - but instead of engagement (or even disengagement) my friend chose a sneering slapdown attempt.

Such is the problem with SIWOTI - "somebody is wrong on the internet". 

These "humiliate your opponent" tactics have given the opportunity for the resurrection of Pauline Hanson as well as the emergence of Clive Palmer and Donald Trump. Their like is growing in number and people such as my friend are almost pushing them in Hanson, Palmer and Trump's direction.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Brexit example: Democracy is our obligation

With a voter turnout of only 72% surely the message around Brexit is "turn up to vote, doofus!". Those who didn't vote helped secure the result while at the same time losing any credibility in complaining about it.

I have always been amazed at people who say politics has nothing to do with me yet complain about petrol prices, tax, health services, treatment of refugees, same sex marriage etc.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The "Friends Matrix" - perhaps this is how I engage with people

I've had reason and opportunity recently to reflect on the sorts of people I would like to engage with. It's an old story now about how introverts do not have a bottomless pool of emotional energy and need to make clearheaded decisions about where they spend it.

That statement is common sense to some people and entirely foreign to others. However one thing I learned is that the greatest gift I can give the people around me is for me to understand myself first before I try to understand them.

I have a working hypothesis of how my brain works over this. The "friends matrix" is the best model I can think of. On the vertical axis there is simply how much I like you. You might be a rock star, you may be a student or a member of the family but I have the choice as to whether or not I really like you.

Horizontal axis is about your willingness, but importantly also your ability to engage with me. Sure it's self-centered to think about how well you can engage with me but this is of course a model about all about how I see the world. Here is where the introvert/extrovert divide becomes apparent again.

If you are invading my personal space, offering advice that I didn't ask for, forcing your opinions on me, smothering me with hospitality or not respecting my freedom in other ways then you are probably low on this scale - by accident. Some people just don't give a crap about me, and that's fine too.

Overly simplistic I know but this gives me four types of people in my life. I have the true friend, of which my sister is one, and the superstar that I can only but admire from a distance. The rest - well you just have to work out for yourself, if you bother to. But I'll probably be engaging with you in a manner consistent with where you sit on this grid of mine.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

When bad business deals go three for three

At times I have been drawn into business arrangements that cost me some money - more as opportunity cost than anything else. But the real sting is in the bad faith of the negotiation.

I'll never say the words directly, but they would be:

"There are three things I dislike in business:
  • When my loyalty is taken for granted
  • When promises arent honoured
  • When other people's dithering costs me money

And with this deal you have gone 3 for 3."

But everybody knows how I hate confrontation (cough) so I never say those things.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The insult of a late payment fee. BankSA fumbled the ball.

How unfortunate for you BankSA. I've been banking with you for about 25 years now there have been times where I have had very low balances and other times where I have run an average balance of $40,000. I've never been a particularily bad customer at least . At this moment I have no particular need for credit card facilities and have a range of financial institutions offering me pre approved credit cards.

Almost out of charity but more from convenience I agreed a few years ago to take a little $500 credit card with you. It has worked ok and I normally just pay the balance off before the end of the month. This time when it slipped my mind and you chose to apply a $9 late payment fee.

Sure you have the right to do anything you like as a supplier and I have the right to do anything I like as a consumer. As a consumer I decided to close the account.

When I called your helpline I was run around for about a half an hour before I was with the right person to close my account who did it as a matter of straightforward bureaucratic paperwork. When I quizzed them about whether or not this seems strange that a 25 year customer is calling to close an account because of a paltry fee, they were surprised.

By comparison a similar situation 6 months ago with Woolworths Everyday Money (HSBC) saw the customer service person reverse the charge immediately and keep me as a customer.

It's strange that the one side of the bank is trying to get customers to open new accounts and more deeply discuss their banking needs while the other side of the bank is losing customers.

Giving the bank the opportunity I had already driven out to the branch (St Peters) so that I could talk with somebody about this situation. The teller seemed confused that I would want to talk to somebody about my banking needs and asked if I would like to make an appointment. By then I'd lost interest and left.

I think BankSA dropped the ball today. Perhaps in the new-ish (St George) owners, perhaps it's the Tuesday after a long weekend and perhaps it's just me being an entitled turd. But I'm not an 18 year old begging for my first credit card, I'm not scratching for a living and surviving thanks to the largesse of the banks.

As I make my customer service complaint to Bank sa I will direct them to this blog. If I remain unsatisfied I will close my major account. Or something might grab my attention and I will forget to. Customer inertia is the friend of bad service providers. Often those bad service providers mistake that inertia for loyalty.

UPDATE 7/7/2016

After that confusing and disappointing attempt to close the credit card, it appears to still be sitting there on my internet banking. I will pay it off now and send them an email closing the account, direct them to this blog entry and see what happens. If I don't get a satisfactory "service recovery" I will withdraw all my money, say goodby to our relationship of about 26 years and walk into some other financial institution.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Dodgy fake invoices

Dear scammer. Thankyou for your attention to my recent trademark search. However at this time I must reject your generous offer to spend $2,000 for registration on your "database", regardless of how much you make your form look like a trademark registration invoice.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Saying the words "you people" just sounds wrong

Here is my challenge to people who think they are good with words. Tell me a casual gender non-specific term I can use to refer to a bunch of friends.

I have always been fond of saying "you guys are doing really well" or "I can't believe how much I miss you guys".

I totally respect the point of view that using the word "guys" possibly reinforces is a stereotype that this is a man's world. But I would really appreciate somebody to come up with a solution rather than simply identifying a problem.

I tried something just then and ended up saying "I hope you people are doing really well". And that just sounded a little weird.

So I won't be using the term "you guys" any more but that does leave an opportunity for some really friendly easygoing term that nobody has invented yet. One for the solution providers rather than the whiny problem identifiers perhaps.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Reachtel really persisted

I give kudos to Reachtel. In the lead up to the election clearly this company is responsible for collecting some pre election polls.

I have been ignoring calls from unknown numbers for a week and a half. Everytime I call back at 8 p.m. I find that it was Reachtel.

They are adhering to a great tenet of sampling whereby it's understood that there is probably important information locked away in the subset of people who have not responded. Hence Reachtel 's persistence in contacting me.

Very professional.

Monday, May 23, 2016

A China milk scare and a whole new market opens up

Sydney International Airport yesterday. The fact that our milk producers can be trusted has opened up a whole new market for us. There is value in maintaining a clean, positive image.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Dissonance reduction in the Tattoo Studio

Someone I know recently got a tattoo done. As they were on the table a second artist came over and said "wow that looks good".

Sure the tattoo does look good but I can't help but think that this is just standard procedure. When the customer is just wondering "is this a clever thing" they received a positive affirmation. In marketing theory this is called dissonance reduction.

The staff probably don't even know that that's what they are doing - just that it makes their life easier. Or perhaps the other artist really just did think it was a nice tatt.

A cinnamon bun shop: great idea but not for Australia

It's lucky for me that I am leaving the USA right now. If left with these Temptations for too much longer I would be 120 kilograms. And as I buy my cinnamon buns for breakfast I love this shop. But a cinnamon roll breakfast Shoppe probably would not roll so to speak in Australia.

The US has a population that preferred to buy rather than make, it likes donuts for breakfast and it loves cinnamon. So as a potential startup business one needs to consider not just if it's a great idea but will the idea travel?

Is there what we call "category demand" for the product before we begin to try to win market share? and how do you define "category"? It's one of those marketing "red wine conversations" I refer to so frequently.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Motel 6: A good brand story

Americans love a road trip. And to support that there has emerged a very strong motel industry over the last 50 years. But some of these properties are getting old.

On my road trip I have been booking hotel rooms at the drop of a hat thanks to the internet and
I've stayed in some shady places and I've stayed in some good value ones. I have pretty much decided to choosing Motel 6 because they are everywhere and I can have some assurance that things will be okay.

That's branding. A promise that you will get some level of quality. No wonder Ocean Breeze Inn came into the Motel 6 family. They haven't even got around to replacing their signage yet. But I still got what I expected; a great value bundle.

Skyhawk, Sidewinders and Huey

Aboard the USS Midway in San Diego. One hell of a war machine. Up to 4500 men on board when operational. As a military aircraft groupie in my teen years I found this amazing.