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.